Long-time law enforcement officer and domestic violence investigator James Ross, the current chief deputy at the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, announced his retirement Friday.

His last day on the job is Tuesday, April 30, Ross said in an email to media outlets.

No reason was given for the abrupt departure. He referred all inquiries to Sheriff Dale Lancaster.

Contacted by phone Friday afternoon, Lancaster said the announcement is not abrupt, as he and his chief deputy have been discussing his retirement over the course of recent weeks. He said there will be an announcement on Ross’ replacement in May.

“It really isn’t abrupt — we’ve been in conversation for a while and I don’t want to speak for Jim, but I think he feels it’s just time to retire,” Lancaster said.

Ross Somerset County Sheriff’s Office photo

He said his two lieutenants — Lt. Mike Knight of the patrol division, and Lt. Carl Gottardi of the criminal division — will be covering the duties of chief deputy until he announces a replacement.

“Absolutely I’m going to miss him,” the sheriff said. “We’ve accomplished a lot in the four years that we’ve been working together and he’s been an intricate part of our day-to-day operations, and his institutional knowledge and his abilities will be missed.”

Ross, 64, took over as second-in-command at the Sheriff’s Department when then-sheriff-elect Dale Lancaster took office in January 2015.

Ross joined the Maine Warden Service in 1977, rising through the ranks over the next 21 years and retiring as a lieutenant in 1998. He was a division commander overseeing the day-to-day operations of the division and was responsible for major investigations, Lancaster said at the time.

Ross later was a reserve police officer with the Skowhegan Police Department and then worked as a detective for three years. He was hired as domestic violence investigator for the Somerset/Kennebec county office of district attorney in 2005. Ross also served as chairman for the Somerset/Kennebec County Domestic Violence Task Force.

He was born and raised in Troy in Waldo County and comes from a family of law enforcement officers. His brother, Glenn Ross, retired as Penobscot County sheriff after 36 years in law enforcement. Glenn Ross’ wife, Christine, also was to retire from her position with that county’s office of probation and parole.

In 2015, his son, Mike Ross, was a detective with the Somerset County sheriff’s office, and his other son, Brian, was a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In July 2017, Ross and two other sheriff’s deputies were placed on paid leave pending the completion of an investigation into a deadly shoot out with an armed man who had already shot and killed three people and wounded a fourth in Madison on July 5.

The three deputies involved in shooting Carroll Tuttle Jr. were Ross; his son, Detective Michael Ross; and Deputy Joseph Jackson. The Office of the Maine Attorney General investigated the officer-involved shooting, as is protocol in Maine, and the deputies were placed on paid administrative leave in the meantime.

All three deputies returned to work at the end of July that year following a briefing on the incident from the attorney general. Lancaster said the preliminary report prepared for him allowed him to make the decision to put the men back on the road. A full report of the incident on Russell Road in Madison from the Attorney General’s office was never made public.

Most recently in March, Ross went beyond the call of duty in finding the remains of a dog that had been missing from a fatal crash in Bingham since Feb. 18. Ross said he and members of the Madison Fire Department went to the storage yard at the sheriff’s office in East Madison and found the body of the dog inside the wreckage of the car. He personally returned the remains to the owner, Brenda Cote, of Harmony.


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