Tulalip Police Chief retires
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:00 AM
TULALIP The Tulalip Tribes are saying goodbye to a friend as Police Chief Jay Goss retires after 41 years of carrying a badge.
The Bremerton native is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and was instrumental in establishing the Tulalip Police Department as a bona fide law enforcement agency. During his six-and-a-half years at the helm of the Tribal police he instituted rigorous training and education standards and built bridges and relationships with every other law enforcement agency in Snohomish County.
But its the other 41-year tie in his life thats tempting him to lay down his gun and shield his high school sweetheart Joy. They have a spread on Hood Canal and he commutes to the reservation. With three kids and eight grandchildren, their life together is the most important thing in the world to him.
I dont want to be another year with out her, Goss said. Thats basically the bottom line.
Goss started his career in 1966 as an MP at Fort Gordon, Ga. After three years in Army green he signed on to the Mercer Island Police Department for five years before beginning a 21-year career as a federal officer. Goss served as police chief for several different Native American tribes, including leadership stints on the Colville, Coeur dAlene and Quinalt reservations. He eventually rose to be commander of the U.S. Indian Police Academy, part of the U. S Bureau of Indian Affairs.
But the Tulalip department was in its infancy when he took over after running the UW Tacoma campus police for three years. He inherited three officers from former chief Francis Sheldon and immediately hired eight more. Work was just beginning on Quil Ceda Village and Goss felt the urgency to get the department on its feet, and quickly.
I had a giant to-do list because we were starting the department from the ground up, Goss recalled.
He started by writing the policy manuals and training syllabus, as well as getting the police cars wired with audio and video cameras, as they were from the start. Training for the 25 commissioned officers Goss now commands is more complex than with other agencies, he noted.
Our officers have to enforce federal law, state law and tribal laws, he noted.
Tulalip officers attend the U.S. Indian Police Academy and then the Washington State Equivalency Academy, for a total of 850 hours of training. Other officers in the state only receive 720 hours and prospective candidates for the Tribal police are polygraphed, profiled and undergo thorough background checks. Many of his officers are over-trained Goss said, noting that many have attended sergeants and command schools.
That flies in the face of charges by some non-tribal residents who have said the department is poorly-trained and unprofessional. A couple of years ago a state legislator told residents they dont have to stop when pulled over by Tulalip Police, a statement that drew a sharp rebuke from Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart. Goss cites the rigorous training his officers receive and the many kudos the department has gotten from county and federal prosecutors.
And they dont have to hand those out, Goss said. We have had nothing but positive comments from the basic people on the street.
The complaints about his department came from just a handful of residents, he added.
His words were echoed by several Marysville-area police officers, who said their Tulalip counterparts have always been up to par. The only qualms Marysville Police have is that Tribal police have unlimited immunity from lawsuits, while non-tribal agencies could face lawsuits. That has given some pause for thought, but there has never been any hesitation to render assistance to a Tulalip officer, the Marysville officers said.
Former Marysville Police Chief Robert Carden praised Goss effusively from his new department in Visalia, Calif. Goss was instrumental in signing contracts with Marysville for jail service and was an active member of the sheriffs and police chiefs association, according to Carden, whose tenure roughly paralleled Goss. It was during this period of increased cooperation that officers from both departments were cross-deputized.
I found Jay to be an extremely professional police chief, Carden said, adding that Goss had a very positive impact on and off the Tulalip Indian Reservation. I think he did some great things for the Tulalip Tribes and the Tulalip Police Department.
Commander Ralph Krusey is in charge of the Marysville jail, which houses prisoners from the reservation and several other cities. As such he had frequent contact with the Tulalip police force.
Weve have had an absolute wonderful working relationship with Chief Goss, Krusey said. Hes just a top notch police chief. He has really made that department what it is. Hes done a wonderful job. Im going to miss him.
Pat Slack is the commander of the Snohomish Regional Task Force, the largest multi-jurisdictional law enforcement body in the state. He plies Marine Drive every day and noted the hundreds of street lights lining the first seven miles of the route. A main connector that once had an awful reputation for drunk driving accidents, Marine Drive is now a much safer thoroughfare, according to Slack.
I think thats all attributed to Jay, Slack said.
Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon Jr. lauded Goss for his work to build the force as well helping them mature and grow. Sheldon cited Goss role as an ambassador to the many people who live on the reservation. Tulalip officers conduct knock-and-talks where each officer has to chat with a different resident and get input and feedback.
His outreach to our community built the trust between our people and the police department, Sheldon said.
The Tulalip Tribes have not appointed a successor for Goss. His last day will be July 15.