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Watertown Police Department detective sergeant retires after 20-year career

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WATERTOWN — Over two decades, Detective Sgt. Joseph C. Reff has served in almost every role within the city’s police department.

Sgt. Reff officially retires today, with Thursday having been his last day in office.

“I’ve done a lot, seen a lot, and I’ve had a pretty rewarding career,” he said.

Joining the force in 1994 was a natural fit for Sgt. Reff, following his father, the late former acting Police Chief Otis N. Reff.

“I grew up around it,” Sgt. Reff said.

Going from patrolman to detective to patrol sergeant, Sgt. Reff was involved in different roles, from being the force’s drug recognition expert to analyzing crash scenes to aiding dive crews.

“I threw myself into everything,” he said.

Charles P. “Chip” Donoghue, the department’s chief, praised Sgt. Reff for his wide range of work within the department, and his support developing new officers.

“He’s been a hard charger his whole career, and that’s rare,” he said.

Among the honors of Sgt. Reff’s career were being named the department’s Officer of the Year in 2004, multiple honors from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and honors connected to lifesaving and aiding the Metro-Jefferson Drug Task Force. “We’re definitely going to miss him a lot,” Chief Donoghue said.

Sgt. Reff said one of the things that kept his work exciting was the ability to meet new people and solve new problems.

In addition to his work on the city’s department, Sgt. Reff worked part time with the Village of Adams Police Department.

His last shift in the village was Thursday night. Sgt. Reff said he and his family will be moving to Tennessee.

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