LMPD Chief Thomas retires after 31 years of service
BY BONNIE KAY BALDWIN
LAKE MILLS GRAPHIC
Lake Mills Chief of Police, Dave Thomas, who has been the chief for the last 31 years, was a 1982 LMHS grad. After high school, he worked as a mechanic from 1982-1988.
Thomas married Dawn Peterson, Albert Lea, Minn., May 14, 1983, on his birthday. So, they will celebrate their 36th anniversary this year, his birthday, and remarkably, his retirement—all on the same day.
“My wife and I moved about a year after high school to Rapid City. I worked in a salvage yard out there, refurbishing parts. Then we moved back to the area, and I worked over at Forest City Tire and Auto—which was formerly, Wagner Tire. From there I went to LM Truck and Diesel and was a mechanic there, until (Police Chief) George Riekens hired me in 1988 for the Lake Mills Police Department.”
Thomas attended the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, Camp Dodge, Des Moines, from January 1989 through March. He returned to Lake Mills to work.
“In 1996, I was promoted to Sergeant and George went into the private sector in 1999. I was appointed acting chief at that time and then in January 2000, I was named Chief of Police. I had about two months of acting Chief when Mayor Dave Anderson appointed me.”
Last Friday, May 10, the City of Lake Mills held an open house retirement party for Thomas. Present Mayor and former council member, Candy Hanna, presented him with an engraved pocket watch and a key to the City.
“This has been my life for the last 31 years, and this is just turning the page on that chapter,” said Thomas. “I’m not going to retire,” he said, “I’m going to start my orientation the 20th in Kansas City to further that life. I have been a professional trainer for Stategos International, LLC, for the last nine years, where I take my vacation and travel.”
Strategos International, LLC, on it’s webpage, says it “provides educational, faith-based, corporate law enforcement and military professionals’ security, safety, and tactical training.”
“It’s kept me well-trained for the police department. I’ve gotten my training and been able to take back what I learned, at no cost to the city (Lake Mills). So, I am going to continue with that and they will fly me or drive me wherever I need to go . . . They do everything from law enforcement to military training to active shooter training, and they do executive protection training (bodyguarding), church and pastoral protection, etc. So that’s what I’ll be teaching.”
Thomas said that he gets to pick and choose from a list of jobs, when and where he wants to work. This extra income will supplement his pension he said, givng him his ‘fun money.’
Through the many years on the job, extra law enforcement and weapons training, and the knowledge he has gained working with Strategos, he has a lifetime of experience of dealing with all sorts of people and situations.
Looking back, he said, “This has been a good go—I love this city. You know the old saying, ‘I’m gonna miss the clowns, but I’m not going to miss the circus? Well, that’s where this falls into. I absolutely love my job. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything other than police work, and even though I looked at other departments during my career and had job offers to a couple of them, Lake Mills is still my home. The good (I would’ve gotten) somewhere else did not outweigh raising my family in a small community in the end. Being in Lake Mills, and being imbedded here and knowing the people, it’s just a great town. It’s just an awesome place.”
Moving forward, Thomas is looking forward to more priceless times with his family who are all still in town: wife, Dawn, who works for Twisted X; daughter, Brittany (Nate) Martin, who works at Dollar General; and son, Bradley, who works at Wagner Tire.
The entire family are avid outdoors people. They love to hunt, fish, camp and travel. Dave and Dawn are looking forward to a mission trip to Uganda in the fall. Other than that, they plan on continuing to be a part of the Lake Mills community.
“Chief Thomas has done an exceptional job. He was a great chief and a great asset to our town,” said Mayor Hanna. “We are fortunate to be able to hire former Sgt. Todd Thorson from in the department to be Thomas’ successsor.”