ITHACA, N.Y. — After 30 years with New York State Police, Sgt. Kelly Daley retired this week. Daley spent most of her years at the Ithaca station.

On Monday, Daley was recognized by colleagues and the Kiwanis Club of Ithaca-Cayuga for her long service with state police. The Kiwanis Club honors local emergency responders from different agencies monthly at a luncheon at Kendal at Ithaca.

Sometimes the awards go to officers for specific acts, like when 911 dispatchers and local officers were recognized recently for helping locate a lost child, but other times it is given to an officer to honor their long-standing service to the community. “I think that’s fair to say in this case that Sgt. Daley has done that,” District Attorney Matthew Van Houten said.

“Thirty years is a huge accomplishment,” Capt. Erik Dauber said Monday. He said Troop C, which includes Ithaca, is known for being a training troop. Many young troopers get stationed in Troop C and Ithaca for a few years before finding a position in another area. By the nature of the transitional troop, Dauber said Daley has hand in training many troopers over the years.

“Something that I noticed … much bigger than doing the job is how much of her heart she puts into everything she does,” Dauber said. He said the impact of that was clear in her file, which is filled with letters of appreciation from law enforcement, school officials and the community.

From left, Capt. Erik Dauber, Kiwanis of Ithaca-Cayuga President Joshua Adams, Sgt. Kelly Daley, and District Attorney Matthew Van Houten.

When Sgt. Daley spoke, she joked, “Just for the record, my plan was to retire when I hit 20 years with the New York State Police, but in 2008 the state police gave me female pants to wear instead of men’s sized pants. So, I stayed another 10 years because I was much more comfortable in my new pants.”

She continued saying, “During my career, I have broken my arm once, broken my wrist twice, royally screwed up my left knee, been spit on, kicked, hit by a pursued vehicle from a DWI road check, cursed at too many times and called some nasty words. I’ve definitely had a few car accidents, and I’ve worked way too many midnight shifts. Obviously, these are not the things that I will hold close to my heart, though. It will always be the people I work with… all of you, every agency in this county has been really great to work with.”

Daley, originally from Long Island, said she always wanted to be a police officer, even as a little girl. Daley attended SUNY Cortland and when she graduated in May 1988, she said she had an envelope with a peace corps position in Guatemala and a state police envelope, and she decided she wanted to go down the police route “and just never looked back.” So instead of Guatemala, Daley was stationed in Lowville in Lewis County, which is part of Troop D, after college. There, she was the first female trooper.

“This agency has come a long way,” Daley said. “I actually work with a lot more women than I ever thought I would and they’re all great. What I’ve noticed is women in 2018, so confident, a lot more confident than I was in 1988. It’s been really inspiring.”

She also worked for Troop T in Syracuse and then went to Long Island, where she met her husband, and they eventually decided to move upstate. Daley has spent the majority of her time, about 20 years, with Troop C. She currently lives in Dryden. As a zone sergeant, she was the supervisor for troopers in Troop C, which includes Cortland, Tompkins, and Tioga counties. Daley said it’s hard to remember any particular moments that stand out over the years. Last year, she went to Puerto Rico to help after Hurricane Maria. She has also been a longtime volunteer for Cops, Kids & Toys.

“I’ve actually enjoyed what I do, I really do. I’ve had a great career. I’ve worked for some great people.

Now that she is retired, she said she plans to spend time with her husband and three daughters and prepare her house for sale to move somewhere warm, “warmer than Upstate New York.”

Featured image: Sgt. Kelly Daley speaks to volunteers for Cops, Kids & Toys on Dec. 12 at Walmart. (Photo by Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.