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Watertown native, former Portland, Ore., detective, considers run for sheriff


John R. Bocciolatt, a Watertown native and 28-year veteran of the Portland, Ore., police, said Friday that he is considering running as a Republican for Jefferson County sheriff.

“I’m seriously considering trying to gather information and do an investigation to see whether or not it’s going to be a good fit,” said the 62-year-old Clayton resident.

Mr. Bocciolatt, who retired in 2005 as a detective sergeant for the Portland Police Bureau, recently returned home to the north county after running an investigations business on the West Coast.

“I’ve always wanted to come back and practice law enforcement,” Mr. Bocciolatt said.

In fact, Mr. Bocciolatt (pronounced bush-a-lot) expressed interest in becoming the Watertown city police chief in 1996, but was hampered by the city’s active civil service list that required the city manager to choose a candidate from within the department.

Mr. Bocciolatt holds a bachelor’s degree in education from SUNY Brockport and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from the University of Portland.

During his career with the Portland Police Bureau, he worked as a homicide, narcotics and gang-unit detective as well as a hostage negotiator. He was involved with several high-profile cases in his time with the bureau, including a hostage situation in 1996 that attracted national media attention.

Mr. Bocciolatt, whose grandfather was a Watertown police officer, always knew he wanted to be a cop.

“I love the work,” he said. “It can be frustrating and stressful at times, but it’s really satisfying when you know you’re taking a murderer off the street or taking a kid out of a domestic abuse situation.”

Sheriff John P. Burns, who has come under fire repeatedly during the past year over allegations of misconduct within his department, said that he is still planning to retire at the end of his term next year.

“I encourage anybody to run,” said Mr. Burns, who is a Democrat.

Jefferson County Democractic Party Committee Chairman Ronald H. Cole said Friday that he has spoken with a couple of people who are interested in running for the position as Democrats.

Mr. Cole said that both potential candidates are local law enforcement officers but declined to give their names or the names of the agencies for which they work.

“We’re going to have a good solid candidate to run,” Mr. Cole said. “We may have a primary, we may not.”

He said the candidacies will probably not be announced until after Jan. 1.

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