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Comins to be interim Watertown police chief

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The second-ranking member of the Watertown Police Department will become interim chief after Friday, when Chief Joseph J. Goss turns in his badge and begins retirement.

Capt. Gary R. Comins, a member of the department since 1985, will run the department until a permanent appointment is made by the city manager, Chief Goss said Monday. The permanent appointment can be expected after a police chief civil service exam is given in the spring.

Chief Goss said he recommended his captain as his interim successor.

Mr. Comins was promoted to captain July 3, 2006, less than two months after Mr. Goss became chief of police.

The captain has served the department as patrol officer, crime investigator, member of the Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force, patrol sergeant and lieutenant.

He is a 1974 graduate of Watertown High School and received an associate degree in criminal justice in 1977 from Jefferson Community College.

Interim City Manager John C. Krol was planning to make the official appointment at next Monday's City Council meeting with a press release, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said Monday morning.

Declining comment about Chief Goss's disclosure, Mr. Graham said, “It's his announcement,” referring to Mr. Krol.

Council members have talked about the interim police chief position in at least two recent executive sessions, the mayor said.

On Friday, Mr. Graham said, “It's under control.”

Mr. Krol said he will announce appointments Monday for both provisional chief and captain, but declined to confirm that Capt. Comins will be the person filling in as chief. He did say, however, that the provisional chief will step in as soon as Chief Goss leaves Friday.

Mr. Krol said he received input from Chief Goss about who should be the interim chief, and advised the City Council of his plans. He said he will not discuss the interim chief's salary until he makes his announcement.

Capt. Comins said Monday afternoon he did not want to comment because no official announcement has been made by Mr. Krol.

When asked if he is interested in seeking permanent appointment as chief of police, the captain said, “Yes, I have an interest in the position.”

Lt. Cheryl A. Clark has been mentioned by two city sources as the potential provisional captain.

Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said he has not heard that, but added that he would welcome her appointment.

“I think that would be a great appointment,” he said. “I think she would make a great captain.”

Lt. Clark in October 2006 was the first woman to reach the rank of lieutenant on the force. A graduate of LaFargeville Central School, Jefferson Community College and Canton Agricultural and Technical College, she joined the department in 1986.

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