SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Saratoga Springs Assistant Police Chief Christopher Cole is moving up the chain of command.
City officials on Friday announced that Cole, a lifelong city resident, will replace Police Chief Ed Moore when he retires on Dec. 12 after 35 years with the department.
Cole, 44, joined the Saratoga Springs Police Department 20 years ago, and served as both a sergeant and a lieutenant before becoming assistant chief in 2006.
Speaking at a news conference to announce his appointment, an emotional Cole acknowledged he was taking over a department at a "crossroads."
Budget cuts threaten to leave seven officers out of work next year, and Cole said maintaining services will be difficult given the department's limited staffing.
He pledged to do whatever he could to get the officers positions restored, and to mitigate the impacts of such cuts as much as possible should they ultimately come to fruition.
"It's a difficult time, but I'm ready for it," Cole said after accepting the position before a group of around two dozen friends, family and fellow officers assembled in City Hall.
The announcement came just four days after Moore and Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Robert Cogan jointly announced their intentions to retire this month.
The men said they hoped their departures would allow younger officers threatened by layoffs to keep their jobs, but it remained unclear on Friday if that goal would be met.
The chief's salaries combined total more than $200,000 but retirement costs could ultimately diminish the amount of savings seen by the city. Members of the City Council must ultimately decide how money saved by the retirements will be spent.
Outgoing Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim tried earlier this week to get officials to use expected savings from the retirements to save the jobs of three police officers, two firefighters and a traffic control operator targeted for layoff, but officials did not act on the proposal.
Incoming Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth said after the announcement that he would continue looking for ways to save jobs within the Police Department after he takes office.
"We'll have to see where the budget is at, but anything is possible after Jan. 1," he said.
Wirth and Kim each interviewed candidates for police chief on Thursday. Police Capt. Michael Biss and Lt. Michael Chowski were also considered for the top post.
Officials said all candidates were well qualified but cited Cole's work ethic, integrity and intelligence as the reasons for putting him in the leadership position.
"This department is in the best hands it could possibly be in," said Moore, who described Cole as his mentor and "right hand man."
Moore said he hoped Cole's replacement would offer the department a "fresh start" as it tackled budget problems moving forward.
"I'm holding high hopes that we'll do a better job in the future," he said. "This city deserves no less."
City officials have not yet named a replacement for Cogan at the Fire Department.
Interviews with three candidates from within the Fire Department are expected to be held later this month. An appointment is expected before the end of Kim's term.