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Published: Wednesday, 12/21/2011

Rossford police chief known for wit

Goss says goals for department include more community focus

BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Glenn Goss, sworn in this month as Rossford Police chief, set his sights on police work when he was a youngster. Glenn Goss, sworn in this month as Rossford Police chief, set his sights on police work when he was a youngster.
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Rossford Police Officer Randall Baker headed out to a domestic dispute, the kind of situation that can become heated quickly.

When he arrived, his partner was already there.

Glenn Goss sat on the couple's couch in the living room, chatting with them as if he'd known them for years, and the situation was defused.

"I'm going, 'You know these people?' " said Officer Baker, a 15-year member of the force, as he remembered the scene from a few years ago. "Come to find out, he didn't know these people at at all. … That's how he is."

Mr. Goss, 47, who is well known for his witty comebacks -- was sworn in as Rossford's next police chief this month.

He had been a patrol officer since May, 2001.

New Mayor Neil MacKinnon III said he appointed Chief Goss because he is both experienced in law enforcement and is a longtime Rossford resident.

"He's very well liked and respected, not only by his fellow officers, but by the community," the mayor said.

Rossford City Council voted 5-2 on Dec. 2 to hire Chief Goss.

Councilman Greg Marquette cast one of the dissenting votes.

He said he wanted the mayor to publicly advertise for the position and be more transparent in the hiring process.

Chief Goss, who is to be paid $58,366 annually, takes over the department with 10 full-time sworn positions from Robert Vespi, Jr., who had been the city's top law-enforcement official since April, 2006.

Chief Goss said one of his goals is for his department to be more community-focused.

He said he wants officers to eat lunch with elementary students or walk through the high school -- things the department did before the DARE officer, school resource officer, and other positions were cut in the past 10 years.

Chief Goss, the youngest of five children, grew up in Bellevue, Ohio, a small blue-collar town, similar to Rossford, where most people, including his father, worked in the railroad industry.

At a young age, Young Goss was known for his jokes and one-liners.

At his Catholic elementary school, a nun wrote, "He thinks he's the class clown" on his report card.

His mother, Betty Tibboles-Spalding, recounted her son's reaction when that story was brought up, years later.

" 'What do you mean he thinks he's the class clown? I was the class clown!' " she remembered him saying.

"There's no way you can be feeling down or sad -- you're just laughing," Mrs. Tibboles-Spalding, who now lives in Fort Myers, Fla., said of her son.

"He's very quick with wit, but he's also very serious. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and there isn't anything in between."

It was the philosophy of a future police officer, the job the new chief wanted since he was a little boy.

While his brothers played sports, Chief Goss gravitated as a teenager toward community service by becoming a drug informant with the local police department, running a haunted house with the Jaycees, and dressing up as Santa Claus at community events.

At age 19, he joined the Army and was stationed at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio.

Three years later, he returned to his hometown to work part time in emergency medical service and begin at the Willard Police Academy through the Bradner Police Department.

In 1986, at age 22 -- almost exactly 25 years before he would become Rossford's police chief -- he graduated from the academy and began moving up the ranks in law enforcement.

"I've been everywhere," he joked. "Have gun, will travel."

He was paid $5.50 an hour as chief -- then called marshal -- in the village of Bradner, then became a dispatcher for the Wood County Sheriff's Office in 1988.

Throughout his career, he also took jobs at the Woodville, Bairdstown, and Berkey police departments before he was hired by the Conrail police department in July, 1988, a job he held for 11 years.

On May 12, 1989, the then-25-year-old officer tried to arrest a homeless man who was suspected of jumping over the counter and attacking a ticket agent at Toledo's Central Union Terminal earlier that day.

The 38-year-old man tried to grab for Officer Goss' gun, and a struggle ensued that led to Officer Goss shooting the man twice in the abdomen.

After the man died in Mercy Hospital the next day, a Lucas County grand jury ruled Officer Goss acted in self-defense and no criminal charges were filed.

Looking back, Chief Goss said the support from his fellow officers helped him get through that traumatic experience, a lesson that still stays with him.

Officer Goss left the railroad company in 1999 because, he said, he missed dealing with people, and was hired as a patrol officer in Northwood.

Less than two years later, he joined the police department in Rossford, the city where he has lived since 1992 with his wife, Jacquie.

She was his childhood neighbor in Bellevue until she moved away; they reconnected in their 20s.

In his spare time, the father of four likes working outside in his yard.

About two years ago, he gave up his longtime collection of more than 2,000 police badges from departments across the country and donated them to the Rossford's local Ohio Patrolman's Benevolent Association.

Contact Gabrielle Russon at: grusson@theblade.com or 419-724-6026.



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