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Detective announces retirement from Watertown police department

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After 20 years with the Watertown Police Department, Detective Richard J. Purvis retired from the force Tuesday.

He joined the department in 1994 as a patrol officer before being promoted to detective in 1999 and assigned to the Metro-Jefferson Narcotics Task Force.

In 2004, he was transferred to general crimes in the criminal investigation unit, where he finished out his career.

Additionally, Mr. Purvis was a field training officer and a member of the Special Response Team. Throughout his career, Mr. Purvis received numerous accolades. He was credited with talking an armed, barricaded suicidal subject into surrendering to police in 1997. For that, he received a meritorious service award.

In 2002, he was presented with the Drug Buster Award for his work in the narcotics task force and was named American Legion Officer of the Year for the department in 2004.

Mr. Purvis’s retirement is expected to be only the first of many personnel changes at the police department. Capt. Cheryl A. Clark said Monday that another member of the force is retiring, though she would not identify the person until the retirement is official.

Capt. Clark said three new patrolmen are expected to be sworn in later this week, but said she could not comment until the move is official. The three new hires will be partially offset by Mr. Purvis’s retirement and the fact that the department was understaffed by one sworn officer prior to Mr. Purvis’s retirement.

In a statement issued on Feb. 4, City Manager Sharon A. Addison said that allowing the police department to make new hires prior to expected retirements “provides the opportunity to enroll candidates in the academy and will help ensure the department does not fall into the untenable position that comes with being short-staffed, including costly overtime payments, as well as overworking existing officers.”

Calls to Chief Gary R. Comins and Lt. Joseph R. Donoghue were not immediately returned.

There was no word on who will take over Mr. Purvis’s position.

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