WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A Watertown family is celebrating three generations that have served or are currently serving in law enforcement.
For the Ryan family, it’s more than just a job, it’s a family tradition dating back to 1979.
Born and raised in Watertown, Michael Ryan Jr. looked up to his dad and his committment to the community.
“My grandfather and my dad both worked for the city. They weren’t in law enforcement but they work for the DPW. So I was familiar with what went on in the city. I used to ride around with my dad once in a while and see what was going on,” said Michael.
And when choosing a career, he decided it was his turn to serve.
"I've always had a heart for people I guess. I cared about people and it was just something that interested me," he said.
Ryan became a police officer, a choice that would ripple into decades of public service. Two of Michael's sons, Shawn and Shane, are also in law enforcement. One with the Watertown Police Department, the other with Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
"My brothers and I, watching him come home with the uniform on, he kept us involved with some of his work. We would go to the range with him on occassion," said Shawn.
And it's something he's passed along to Michael's grandson, Joshua, a recent graduate from the Syracuse Police Academy.
"I was very proud. Very worried. But it's a family tradition at this point, just in our family ties. He's very well taken care of and I think he'll do very well down there," said Shawn.
Since joining the force in 1979... Michael says a lot has changed.
"It's upside down from where it was in 1979. We didn't have the equipment then, we didn't have the training then," he said.
And his sons agree. It continues to change.
"My son who has just started in 2020 from the day he started to when he graduated, he has already dealt with dramatic changes because of the COVID and all sorts of stuff going on in today's era," said Shawn.
Looking back at his legacy, Michael says he is full of pride.
"I'm very proud of them all. They've worked hard. They've come a lot farther than I did," he said.
Between the four of them, the Ryan family has served a combined 61 years in local law enforcement and counting.