Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has named State Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bucaria as commander of the New York Guard, the state's volunteer defense force.
Bucaria, 65, a brigadier general in the Guard and a Garden City resident, replaces Maj. Gen. Fergal Foley, who officials said is stepping down to spend more time with his family.
Bucaria, a Republican who joined the Guard in 1996, said he planned to focus on better preparing the force to assist in disasters, through improved communication and mobilization techniques. He also wants to re-establish a Guard unit in Buffalo.
"The Guard was called upon during [superstorm] Sandy, Tropical Storm Irene and during 9/11," said Bucaria, who sits in Mineola. "When Gov. Cuomo calls on us again, I want us to be ever more efficient in the protection of the citizenry."
Cuomo said in a statement Thursday that Bucaria "served the people of New York selflessly both as a Supreme Court judge and a member of the New York Guard. I am confident that he will continue this great work as commander of this group of dedicated volunteers."
The New York Guard, with 650 members statewide, takes orders from the governor. Guard members, who are unpaid unless on active duty during disasters, often assist the National Guard during emergencies.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bucaria and his team helped cordon off the World Trade Center site, decontaminate trucks and inventory materiel. A graduate of Hofstra Law School, Bucaria has been a Supreme Court justice since 1996, and previously served two years as a Nassau District Court judge.
While there are no term limits for Guard commanders, members must retire at 68.
The commander's position is unpaid.