Retired Cottage Grove Police Officer Chris Joyce celebrated his retirement at the Round Up Saloon in Creswell on Saturday night. Noel Nash/The Chronicle
CRESWELL – Now that Chris Joyce has hung up his badge after 25 years as a police officer, what do you suppose he’ll do now that he suddenly has a bunch of free time on his hands?
The best guess here is that his life won’t change too drastically. After all, he’ll still be involved in a number of community events, particularly those helping people in need. And he’s always enjoyed mentoring kids. After coaching football and wrestling for 22 years, he hasn’t ruled out a return to the coaching ranks.
That’s just who Chris Joyce is. It’s what he does. And it’s probably the person he will always be.
Joyce, who worked at the Nyssa and Madras police departments early in his career, spent the last 22 years at the Cottage Grove Police Department. He served many roles there, including D.A.R.E. officer, Special Response Team member, K9 Handler and School Resource officer.
”Coaching, and being part of those school programs, and being able to be a positive influence in kids’ lives, that’s always been the most rewarding part of the job,” Joyce said on Saturday night, Jan. 4, at the Round-Up Saloon as his friends and family members held a double celebration for Chris: he was celebrating his retirement on his 51st birthday.
And what a bash it was, as Chris had 15 sisters, nieces and nephews show up from as far away as San Francisco and Portland. And the Round-Up, where Chris’ wife, Robin, works as a bartender, was hopping all night as the band, The Minors, a young band out of Pleasant Hill, was a big hit with everyone.
Dec. 31, 2019 was Joyce’s final workday, and his co-workers made sure they gave him an extra-special send-off.
”It was the most emotional day of my life,” he said. ”Robin rode with me. Everything was the last little thing. The last time to put gas in the car … it’s hard knowing that it’s all ending.
”It culminated with the last sign-off. Then they escorted me home – two in front of me, four in the back.
”It might have been the first time I’ve ever run a stop sign and a stoplight. That was the joke everybody was saying, anyway.”
For the immediate future, Chris says it’s vacation time.
”Robin tells me I’m not doing anything for the next few months. It’s not a situation where I can’t work, she just has some places she wants us to go,” he said, before identifying California, Las Vegas and Cancun as his next three stake-out spots.
When asked if there was any particular moment that stood out during his 25 years of service, he flashed back, maybe 15 years ago, to the young woman in Cottage Grove who approached him during a traffic stop and said, ”Officer Joyce, I just want to let you know that you saved my life.”
On several occasions, he’s had to read high schoolers the riot act. This time it paid off.
”She had gotten in some trouble in high school, and I had lectured her,” Joyce said. ”I told her if she continued on that same path, she would probably wind up dead.
”She did get in some more trouble after that, but then she straightened up, and she said it was because of what I said to her.”
That’s just Chris Joyce. Doing what he does best.