SYCAMORE – Police Chief Don Thomas finds it strange to think about retirement plans when he still has five months of work to go.
Thomas' contract with the Sycamore Police Department was going to expire this month, but he told city manager Brian Gregory he was almost ready to retire. Gregory worked out a contract with Thomas that would let him work until Jan. 2, which Sycamore City Council members will consider today.
Thomas' salary for this fiscal year was reported as $109,505, and he will continue to be paid at the same rate through the new contract. The search to find Thomas' replacement will begin this summer.
"I felt it was beneficial to let them know now," Thomas said. "I will have a role in helping the city find a new police chief, and I will help with the transition."
Thomas' career spans 40 years, 24 of which were spent at the St. Charles Police Department. After his time there, he spent a year in Bosnia as the Chief of Human Rights Investigations for the United Nations' police task force. He managed human rights investigations and assisted women who were victims of international trafficking.
He has found his 13 years with the Sycamore Police Department as the police chief rewarding.
"I feel good knowing that I was able to have some impact on the improvement of the department," Thomas said. "It's a very nice town, a very safe town. It's a good idea for the police chief to have a stake in the community."
Thomas will continue to live in Sycamore with his wife, Susan, a retired teacher. However, he plans to spend much of his retirement with his children and grandchildren, and traveling to places like Turkey and Mexico.
"We're also going to leisurely drive around the United States," Thomas said. "We'll hit places we've been before and places we've never seen."
However, Thomas knows he still has work to do until his time is up in January. Thomas will continue to lead the department's efforts to obtain accreditation through the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program until he retires.
"I'm going to continue working hard at my desk and working hard with officers," Thomas said.
Sycamore Police Lt. Darrell Johnson, who Thomas calls his right-hand man, said Thomas' accomplishments during his time at Sycamore have spread far and wide. As the city grew in size, Thomas hired more employees and was instrumental in working with the city while the new police station was built in 2011.
"To his credit, and I know he won't admit it, he's leaving us in a better place than when he got here," Johnson said.
DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said he has worked closely with Thomas on many occasions.
"I have a great deal of respect for his work ethic and ability to work through things," Scott said. "I will miss his leadership in Sycamore. I am really an admirer of his."
About Don Thomas
• Sycamore Chief of Police from 2001 to Jan. 2, 2015
• From Hoffman Estates, lives in Sycamore
• Received bachelor's in Criminal Justice from Aurora University
• Received master's of Public Administration from Northern Illinois University
• St. Charles Police Department from 1976 to 2000 (Deputy Chief from 1994 to 2000)