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Canton appoints female police chief

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CANTON — Starting Thursday, the village of Canton will have its first female police chief.

Sgt. Lori A. McDougal was unanimously appointed by village trustees Monday evening to the $75,000-a-year chief’s position.

She has served with the department since 1994, first as a patrol officer. In 2004, she was promoted to sergeant.

“I like a challenge,” Ms. McDougal said after being sworn in. “I took the test, passed it, and I feel like it’s the right time for this challenge.”

The appointment was made on a probationary basis with the probation term lasting from two to 12 months.

She had the fourth-highest score on the civil service exam for the police chief job, but moved up to the top three after Nathaniel A. Amritt of Nassau County decided he did not want to be considered for the job.

Village trustees interviewed two other candidates for the position, Detective Sgt. Augustus T. “Gus” Burns, Lisbon, and Deputy Shawn Wells, both of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department.

Ms. McDougal, 45, resides in the town of Oswegatchie and has spent her entire career in the village of Canton. She worked as a security officer and security department supervisor at St. Lawrence University before joining the Canton force. She received a degree in criminal justice from SUNY Canton in 1988 and later received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from SUNY Potsdam.

Numerous community members encouraged her to pursue the chief’s job, Ms. McDougal said.

“I’ve had overwhelming support from the community. People have been very supportive and encouraging,” she said.

Village Mayor David P. Curry said Ms. McDougal, with her 19 years’ experience with the department, was the most qualified to take over as chief. “She knows the village of Canton well and she deserves it,” Mr. Curry said. “She will do a great job.”

During the next two weeks, Ms. McDougal will work with Victor N. Rycroft, who has served as temporary chief for the past year. Mr. Rycroft, a retired state police sergeant, took the civil service test for the job, but did not pass the exam.

He was appointed on a temporary basis after Basil W. Cheney resigned after a month on the job after discovering that the $75,000 annual police chief salary was less than he was paid as sergeant in the department when overtime was included.

Ms. McDougal credited Mr. Rycroft with making positive changes to the department and improving morale. “He has shown a lot of leadership, and I hope to continue that momentum,” she said.

As chief, she said, she would like to be involved with upgrading the department’s office space or securing new space that is larger.

At the meeting, Daniel W. Ladouceur, Ogdensburg, was sworn in as a new village patrolman.

If Ms. McDougal successfully completes her probationary period, the board is expected to fill her sergeant’s position.

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