CALEDONIA – Gary Cicoria was a Rochester police officer who in his spare time was active in the rodeo.
It was that background that, in 1977, saw Cicoria asked to help revive a mounted patrol that had been decommissioned 50 years earlier.
And it was that experience that, upon retiring from RPD, led to his being asked to create a mounted patrol for the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Cicoria conducted his last official detail with Livingston County’s Mounted Patrol at the Memorial Day parade in Caledonia. Cicoria is a resident of Caledonia.
For Cicoria, that final ride was the culmination of a long career in law enforcement that originally started in Rochester during the “long, hot summer” of 1967, as it came to be known, when race riots roiled dozens of cities across the country, including Rochester.
Cicoria was a police officer during the riots and also worked as a narcotics investigator with RPD.
In his spare time, Cicoria was active in the rodeo. In 1977, at the request of late Rochester Mayor Tom Ryan and with the support of then-police chief Thomas Hastings, Cicoria helped revive a mounted patrol which had been decommissioned in 1927. Then he assisted in creating a mounted patrol unit for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in 1983 and, when he retired from the Rochester Police Department in 1992 and joined the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, then-Sheriff John York approached him about starting a mounted unit.
York admitted he was a bit skeptical when first approached with the idea of starting a mounted patrol unit.
“When he first approached me I said ‘Mounted? What is a horse going to do in this environment?’” York recalled.
According to York, Cicoria’s response was “Well if you don’t know, shame on you and let me show you.”
Over time, York said he began to understand how important a mounted patrol unit was.
“The more we began to understand, or I began to understand the value of the mounted patrol, the more I began to see the value of Gary and what he provided,” said York.
During this time, York said he also began to appreciate just how skilled of a mounted patrol officer Cicoria was.
“He was probably one of the most skilled and avid mounted patrol officers in the country,” said York. “When I say the country, I mean it.”
Members of the unit own and maintain their own horses. Cicoria said his current horse, Dallas, is, in many ways, not just a co-worker, but also a friend.
“He has been with me for a little over a year and he is a trained police horse,” said Cicoria. “He is also my recreational horse. I take him to state parks, trails and he is just a good boy.”
Cicoria said the unit said a grown by leaps and bounds over the years. It now has six mounted officers. From helping control large crowds to finding lost children Cicoria said the unit does it all.
“What the Sheriff wanted was visibility and community relations and that is what we have given him,” said Cicoria. “The benefits are visibility and people can see you from a long distance away. I think it has a calming influence on a crowd and in fact I know that it does. From our vantage point, we can see over a large area and we can see a crowd. We can be seen by people, too. I am probably five-ten, but now we are 10-foot cops on the horse.”
After so many years of service, Cicoria said it felt like the right time to retire.
“I enjoying riding and I enjoy the people but I like to do some traveling and not be obligated to work,” said Cicoria, who plans to travel and continue riding in retirement.
He also feels confident that the unit he founded will he in good hands.
“People say ‘You have given a lot to mounted patrol’ and I tell them that I’ve gotten a lot out of it, for my family and for the community,” he said. “We have been fortunate in Livingston County.”