A full room of supporters greeted Oakland Police Chief Steve Thomas on his second-to-last day of work. The town held an open house Thursday, Jan. 2, for staff, residents and friends to say goodbye to Thomas, who was retiring after 40 years in law enforcement.
Police officers representing Oakland and multiple area agencies were present.
“That speaks volumes about the kind of person the chief is,” Mayor Kathy Stark said.
Town Manager Steve Koontz, who worked with Thomas for two years, said it was an honor to work alongside him and called him the consummate public servant whose presence will be felt for many years.
Town Commissioner Mike Satterfield, who attended high school with Thomas, said because they were together when Thomas graduated, it was only fitting that they be together for his retirement.
Satterfield also read a letter from former Town Manager Dennis Foltz, who said hiring the chief was the best thing he did in his time here.
The town hired Thomas in 2011 from a field of 40 applicants. Among his first tasks was meeting with everyone in the town: residents, town officials and employees, church members, homeowner associations and business associates. His goal was to listen to their concerns so he could strive to make the town a safer place to be.
Thomas is credited with recruiting young talent to the police department, emphasizing training and starting the elderly and homebound check-in program.
Thomas was responsible for hiring John Peek, the new police chief, as a reserve officer in 2006.
“Steve Thomas is loved by the officers,” Peek said. “I was taught to lead by example. He’s been the greatest mentor in my life.”