BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — When we talk about retirements in law enforcement, few reach the four-decade mark. Even fewer reach that level of service all with a single agency. And so it’s no surprise that when former University Police Chief Peter Carey walked onto the campus of Buffalo State in the summer of 1977, he never thought he’d be there for a lifetime.
“My brother dropped me off, and I was 500 miles from home, wondering what did I do?” Carey said. “When I came here, I had planned on going back to New York City.”
But he fell in love. First with the campus, then with the police profession and finally with his wife. Countless, cognizant decisions that felt right, that felt like home.
“But got the job here and just stayed here. And I just decided that working in the police department in higher education is really what I wanted,” he said.
Carey called it a career at the end of August after 41 years; a career well lived right where it started.
“I’ve not only gotten my education here, I’ve got a career here, a life here,” he said.
Carey arrived on the north Buffalo campus in 1977 to study criminal justice. A year later, he joined the university police department as a student assistant. In 1980, he was hired as a full-time officer.
In his more than four decades of service, Carey worked the campus beat, graduated from law school, taught criminal justice for 14 years, earned multiple commendations and personal and organizational honors, all while rising through the ranks to lead the department that gave him his first real job.
One of those honors came later in his career, Dec. 7, 2002, when a despondent student blew up his room on the eighth floor of this dorm tower.
“Myself and an officer, Daniel Harris, rolled up on that call,” Carey said. “And as we pulled up, we could see smoke, and we had students telling us there was an actual fire. So we went into the building not knowing how big a fire. And as it turns out, it was an arson explosion, by a student, with significant damage to the building. And it was on the eighth floor. And myself and Officer Harris went up to the ninth and tenth floors and evacuated students to get them passed the floor where the fire had taken place.”
With a career spanning 41 years, Carey says he’ll miss a lot about Buffalo State. And although he’s a man of routine, it’s the annual reinvention; the new and different he’ll likely miss the most.
“Every year, 25% of our population is brand new,” he said. “So you get a fresh start with 25% of your population every year. It’s a new group of students to meet and work with and mentor. I think I’m so fortunate to be able to retire and walk away happy and healthy and missing this place, rather than being unhappy and walking away,” he said. “I miss this place, and I will come back. But I couldn’t be happier personally or professionally with my time here at Buffalo State.”