Joseph J. Goss has no regrets. He has enjoyed his career, he said, but he is excited to leave it and start a new life.
“I'm a happy and lucky guy,” he said Monday, just before stepping out of his office and into a conference room across the hall in the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, where colleagues, a cake and gifts awaited.
It was perhaps a premature farewell gathering Monday, but he has family matters to attend to for the next couple of days.
Friday will be his last day as Watertown police chief. After surrendering his badge and attending to some other final details, he will cross the threshold for the last time with a 30-year city police career behind him.
“I always wanted to be a cop, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my career,” he said Monday. “I was very lucky to move around and have different responsibilities here, and I have been treated very well by the city of Watertown. The city is a good employer.”
Then he added, “But yes, I am looking forward to retirement.”
Remaining mum on a new career — and it sounds like he has plans — he said his immediate mission is to spend time with family and catch up on work around the house.
When he assumed the department's command in May 2006, Chief Goss said, he had no plans to upset the apple cart. Instead, “I came in hoping to maintain the status quo, and I still feel that way.”
“The biggest thing I did was change the color of our patrol cars,” he said.
Returning the patrol colors to black and white “is kind of distinctive and the traditional color of police work,” he said. And it was important to him, he added, to remind the public and his personnel of the department's role with wording he had placed on the cars — “Protect and Serve.”
Aside from that, he said, he is proud to have worked with City Hall to try to keep the department's budget, particularly in overtime pay, under control. He noted the good working relationship he had with former City Manager Mary M. Corriveau, who retired April 17 after the City Council chose not to retain her services.
It wasn't long after the City Council action that Chief Goss surprised a lot of people with his announcement that he was retiring. Still not wanting to upset any apple carts, he refused to say if the action against Mrs. Corriveau prompted his decision.
“There were a number of factors behind my decision,” he said.
Mrs. Corriveau was among those attending the cake-cutting.
He was asked if he had any words of advice for his successor.
“People don't generally ask me for my advice,” he said with a modest smile on his face. “My standard has been do the best that you can, handle individuals as individuals, be empathetic, but realize you have a job to do. You have to be aware that you will never please everybody, so you have to do what you know is right and do what is best for the majority.”
He added a note about role models. “I never modeled myself after anybody. Instead, I tried to emulate the positives of people that I have worked for through the years.”