CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Cheektowaga’s Police Chief is hanging up his badge after more than two decades in the department.
Chief Brian Gould issued a statement Thursday morning after informing town officials and fellow members of the Cheektowaga Police Department of his pending retirement this past Monday. He sat down with News 4 for his first retirement interview, saying he is filled with pride.
Gould’s retirement will take effect at the end of November, after 23 years with the Cheektowaga police. A graduate of the FBI National Academy’s 250th session, Gould is credited with performing multiple duties over his two-plus decades with Cheektowaga, including working to create the agency’s Crisis Intervention Team.
He began in the department as a dispatcher in 1997. He then became a patrol officer in 2000, and rose through the ranks of the patrol unit, eventually leading it. He moved to the administration side of the department as a captain and later was named assistant chief. After the unexpected death of Chief Michael Sliwinski in 2021, Gould was appointed by the town board as chief in August.
He also served as the board of education president for Cheektowaga Central Schools, ran a campaign for Erie County Sheriff, and has served as a volunteer firefighter since he was 18. He still serves in the Bellevue Fire Company. He says his passion for service began when he was a scout, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout.
“I think that foundation has really pushed me to not only serve the community, but the advancement piece. In scouting, it’s all about ranks. You get so many merit badges, you get the next rank. It’s similar in the police department. You take the tests, you do well, you move up the ranks,” Gould added.
He started working for the town in 1992 as a lifeguard at the town park. He says that was certainly a catalyst for him to continue his career, protecting residents in his hometown.
“I was hired in 1992 as a lifeguard for the town. Immediately at a young age I was here serving and protecting the people of Cheektowaga,” Gould said. “Serving the town as a lifeguard is really not a whole lot different, in a way, than being a police officer. Being on call, paid by the town to keep people safe.”
He has served the town for more than three decades in various roles. If he could talk to his younger self, the bright-eyed patrol officer hoping to make a difference, he says he would tell him to do the job for the right reasons, everytime.
“If you have it in your mind that you’re going to do the right thing every day then you can get through anything,” Gould said. “You have to figure out what works for you to after a call push that reset button and go onto the next call because that next person you’re dealing with doesn’t know what you just went through.”
In a drive along with Gould, he took us to where his town career began at the Cheektowaga Town Park. While driving, he said he knows every street, alley, and sidewalk and often remembers responding to emergencies in his travels about town.
“In thinking about my career I think when you drive around those are the things that jump out at you. Everywhere you go in this town there’s a story behind it. Sunrise Apartments, everything. There’s a story behind the calls,” Gould said.
Gould says his decision to retire wasn’t an emotional one, but once the decision was made, memories flooded back to him bringing with them an emotional rollercoaster, including successful calls and more difficult assignments that he says are hard to think about.
“I think the emotion is about remembering some of the past. I guess in this job too the craziness is you have to turn emotion off sometimes. I mean think about what everyone out there sees and you have to be the guy holding to it together. It’s tough sometimes,” Gould said.
He’s most proud of bringing the Boys and Girls Club to Cheektowaga, teaching officers how to respond to a mental health crisis, and being an advocate for officer wellness. He’s also proud of the relationships he has built, especially with the public, making sure his residents stay informed.
“The public wants to hear from us and I’ve done my best to be that voice that is coming out and keeping that community updated because that’s where we build that support by letting the community know what we are going through,” Gould said.
The next chief will be appointed by the town board, and Gould is recommending the board does it sooner rather than later.
Gould says he isn’t leaving his hometown and will still be active serving his neighbors. He didn’t give specifics about what his next career move is, but he said he will release it publicly after his retirement. He also didn’t rule out another run for public office.
“I don’t have any plans to move out of Cheektowaga. As I said, I grew up a mile away and I still live close,” Gould said. “I think I’m leaving it in a good enough position where we’re going to continue to get the job done like we need to.”
An emotional Gould asked his residents to continue supporting the department, saying he is incredibly proud of his team.
“I think my final message as your chief of police would be support your police. A lot of men and women doing great stuff and it’s pride. That’s the emotion. I’m proud of them and please support them because they need it,” Gould concluded.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.