Tommy Thompson is the City Spotlight for November
On November 30, 2018, Chief Thomas L. Thompson, Jr. will be laying down his badge after 47 years of serving the citizens of Jacksonville. “I’ve had the distinct privilege of being Chief of Police for the city of Jacksonville for the past 30 years”, says Thompson. “I have worked with a group of remarkable men and women who daily demonstrate their dedication and commitment to the residents of this great community. I will truly miss this position.”
Thompson has always worked for the city of Jacksonville and resided here most of his life. He began his career with an internship program through Jacksonville State University as part of his college credit. He then was extended an offer to stay on and work to cover while employees were on vacations, etc. In October of 1971, Police Chief Ross Tipton and Mayor John B. Nisbet offered him a full-time position. In 1974, Thompson was promoted to sergeant, then in 1977, he held the first ever lieutenant position. At that time there was no Assistant Police Chief. He then followed Paul Locke as Police Chief in 1988.
“Chief Thompson has been a valuable asset to the Jacksonville Police Department for 47 years. 30 of these years as Police Chief,” says Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith. “Tommy has been very instrumental in keeping the citizens of Jacksonville safe during his tenure. He has been very connected to the people in Jacksonville, which has helped them feel comfortable. Under his leadership, the difficult task of supervising a police department has been handled effectively. He will certainly be missed. I hope he enjoys retirement!”
Thompson was born in Selma, AL, to Thomas L. Thompson Sr. and Frances Thompson. He is a 1968 graduate of Gadsden High School. He is married to wife Diane and they have two sons, Thomas L. Thompson III, 45 years old and David Ross Thompson, 36. Thomas blessed them with two grandchildren, Dylan and Baylee.
As a teenager, Thompson always enjoyed fast cars, guns, and ‘doing the right thing’. Law enforcement encompassed all of that. When asked how he feels about being a policeman all these years, he says, “it’s been very rewarding.” “I can’t see me doing anything else. It has been a great career.” When asked about what case stands out in his memory, he says, “The Becky Howell murder”. “We found her in that lake two weeks later, still bound and taped. Also, the murders at Germania Springs and on Broadwell Mill Road stand out. Those ‘who done it’ cases really bother me because I know people are depending on me. Luckily, we have such good investigators and help from local authorities that work really well together, all those cases were solved.”
When asked about hobbies, Thompson said, “I spend most of my free time now helping take care of my wife. That is one of the reasons that I am retiring, her health has not been good lately. I did used to do photography. I really enjoyed that. I took all the crime scene photos back when Paul Locke was chief.” Thompson said the biggest change he has seen in his job over the years is technology. “There are cameras in the patrol cars and the officers also wear cameras.” When asked what he will miss most about his job, he replied, “The people, without a doubt.” “I have had some part in hiring everyone here. Some come and go, but everyone for the most part stays in touch. We are like family here. Former police officer Bill Deleon still comes by every couple of months and cooks for us. We have 30 policemen now, I was number ten, 47 years ago. I’m excited to see how many former employees show up for my retirement.”
Thompson was asked about the new facility. “We are so blessed here to have such a wonderful facility provided by our taxpayers.”
When asked about retirement plans, Thompson smiled, “Just take each day as it comes.”
Thank you, Chief Tommy Thompson, for your 47 years of loyal service to our community.
Photo & Story by Anita Kilgore