POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 7 J. W. “Joe” Ross Retired after more than 50 years in Law Enforcement The story of a lifetime of dedication, achievements and commitment When Joe Ross stepped down as Executive Director of the Police Association of Nova Scotia over a year ago, we indeed witnessed the end of an era. It seems only fair that we should take a few moments here to recount and summarize a bit of his legacy, keeping in mind it is highly unlikely that we will ever again see his like. Joseph W. "Joe" Ross was born inYarmouth, Nova Scotia, on March 19th, 1931, the third child in a family of six. In 1939, the family relocated to Halifax, where Joe finished his formal education, at least for that time, at St. Patrick's School. At the age of 14, Joe signed on as a crewman on the Lady Rodney, a merchant ship engaged in returning war brides from Europe to Halifax. Shortly afterward, he signed on as a mess boy with Imperial Oil and sailed on various tankers in roles of increasing responsibility from 1945 to 1954. It was during this period that Joe first became involved in labour relations. At 17 years of age, he was selected to represent his ship's crew at consultation sessions during which Imperial strove to find out how its employees felt about their work and what should be done to improve working conditions. This selection was no small honour considering that some of Joe's shipmates had been at sea longer than he had been in the world. After nearly ten years at sea, and after careful consideration, Joe came ashore and commenced his police career on April 6th, 1955. It is fair to say that in Halifax in 1955, working conditions in the police world were far from exemplary. The starting salary was in the range of $1,800 per year and there were no benefits of any consequence. In fact, the police pension plan had recently gone bankrupt, leaving police officers with virtually no security during their working years and even less after retirement. In 1961, Joe was elected President of the Halifax Police Recreation and Social Club, with dues set at 25 cents per month. This organization grew, in large part due to Joe's efforts, to the point where it became the Halifax Police Association and was finally accepted as the bargaining agent for police officers. Despite this progress, in actual fact, Constables had relatively little influence within the association. Consequently, conditions seemed to improve at a faster rate for senior NCO's and Commissioned Officers than for the rank and file. However, this situation was about to change. In 1966, there were 32 recognized municipal police departments in Nova Scotia. Acting upon his own initiative, Joe contacted every police force in the province and invited representatives to a meeting to discuss possible solutions to what were seen as very significant problems related to salary, benefits, training, equipment and other common issues across the province. The turnout from throughout the province was overwhelming and at this very first meeting the Police Association of Nova Scotia was formed with Joe Ross as its first President. Joe was, and is, dedicated to police officers in a way that few people know or understand. Very shortly after the Police Association of Nova Scotia came into existence, it became evident that if working conditions for police in Nova Scotia were to improve, it could not happen with p a r t - t i m e a s s o c i a t i on leadership. (continued...)