JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Family, friends and colleagues gathered Thursday morning in Johnston to say goodbye to the town’s former police chief.

A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Grace for Joseph Razza, who died last week after a battle with an illness. He was 54.

Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. called Razza’s death an “immense loss” for the town.

“Chief Razza was beloved by not only members of his department, but the entire community of Johnston as a whole,” he said.

Razza became chief in 2020 and stepped down late last year. He had been with the department since 1998.

“He was really a people’s chief,” Polisena added. “And what I mean by a people’s chief is, he would go out there and visit people when they had problems. Wasn’t just a phone call, come in, I’ll find time for you. It was, ‘I’m going to go out there, I’m going to meet you at the site of what’s happening, and we’re going to try to work to fix this.'”

Deputy Police Chief Matthew Leduc said Razza was “very committed to this community.”

“Johnston was everything to Chief Razza. You ask anybody here and they’ll tell you,” he said.

“Our department had a motto. It was, ‘Working together, making a difference.’ And he certainly lived up to that every single day,” Leduc added.

Razza also served as the town’s emergency management director and medical emergency distribution systems planner. In addition, he was the lead instructor for the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Code at the Rhode Island Municipal Training Academy.

Law enforcement officers from across the region attended a wake for Razza Wednesday night at Nardolillo Funeral Home.

Razza is survived by his wife.