Elmira Police Department Administrative Assistant Maria Yolanda Lopez retired Friday after 44 years of dedicated service to the City of Elmira.
Yolanda was born in Honduras and attended Catholic school in Guatemala. Her mother moved to the United States when Yolanda was 12-years-old in order to care for a family member living in Elmira. She later joined her mother when she was 16-years-old.
Yolanda was hired by the City on July 23, 1972 in the Civil Service division, she also spent some time in the Urban Renewal office. In 1981, she was assigned to the Police Department.
Officials say she has been an essential support staff member for the Detective Bureau and the confidential secretary for the Office of the Chief of Police for the past 35 years.
“I’m happy and sad, every emotion that you can have, but I’m happy to know that I worked for the Elmira Police Department and they’re family to me and I feel so blessed that I had such a good group of people, but it’s time for me to do something else,” Yolanda said.
She has served under the leadership of eight different Police Chief. Her duties have included processing Freedom of Information requests, resolving bad checks that were issued to businesses, recording court dispositions, attending to the department’s personnel files, managing the estimated 150 registered sex offenders in the city and more, but Yolanda says she is ready for some downtime.
“I’m just gonna take it easy,” Yolanda said. I’m going to do some volunteer work and take every day as it comes, get up late because I don’t like to get up early.”
Officials say Yolanda has also supplied the best homemade salsa to some very lucky recipients and that her departure will have a profound impact on the members of the department.