WATERTOWN, Mass. (WPRI) — If it were up to Sergeant Jeff Pugliese, he would serve in law enforcement for years to come.
The 41-year veteran of the Watertown Police Department was given his final roll call Monday when Massachusetts state law required him to retire at 65 years old.
Pugliese says knew he wanted to be a police officer at the age of 16, calling policing “the finest profession in the world to have.”
“It’s exciting and you get to help a lot of people. You do have to deal with a lot of bad people, but just the feeling of helping people is incredible,” Pugliese said.
He became a national hero when he took down Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. On the night of the Watertown shootout, Pugliese says the only thing separating them was a four-foot chain-link fence.
“We were exchanging gunfire and his gun, now we know it ran out of ammunition but, at the time we didn’t know if it jammed,” Pugliese recalled. “He stopped, he literally took the gun, looked at me, we made eye contact, and then he threw the gun at me and hit me in the shoulder with it. I holstered up and chased after him and tackled him.”
Pugliese says never before in his career, or since, has he had to fire his weapon.
“It does have an effect on you. You think how lucky you were to survive it. It’s just very difficult to put into words,” he said.
Leaving the job, Pugliese says he will miss driving around, talking with people, and the camaraderie at the department.
“We tease each other all the time, we have a lot of laughs. I’m not ready to retire yet,” Pugliese said.
At his final roll call, Pugliese was joined by family members — including nephews and cousins also serving in law enforcement — plus his fellow officers.
Actor J. K. Simmons, who portrayed Pugliese in the 2016 film “Patriots Day,” also sent a videotaped message of congratulations.