By MADELINE HUGHES
A few years after Shelburne residents and employees rallied around officer Mike Thomas, he is excited to give back to the town in a new position: lieutenant.
Thomas has worked for the Shelburne Police Department on and off his entire career – he started as a part-time officer in the mid-1990s. He then started working full-time for the University of Vermont Police Department. Then in March 2009, he came back as a full-time officer for the department.
“Working with the community as a whole offers a close-knit connection,” Thomas said. “And when I say ‘community,’ it means so much more.”
In 2015, Thomas was diagnosed with leukemia while working for the department full-time. He had to take a two-year medical leave to seek treatment. He was scared he wouldn’t be able to return to work, but he did in February 2017.
Thomas recalled the spaghetti dinner fellow officers threw as a benefit for his family to help with medical costs during his treatment. Doctors hadn’t given an OK for Thomas to attend the dinner until that afternoon. He was glad he could attend, seeing the line of town residents there to support him was amazing, he said, but his doctors ultimately agreed it would be good for Thomas to see people.
“The line of people went from the fire station to the road,” he recalled with a smile.
“Hopefully this (new position) can be a way that I give back,” Thomas said. “Fellow officers gave me so much support – Josh (Flore), Bob (Lake), Aaron (Noble).”
Chief Aaron Noble said Thomas was a great choice to promote from within the department when the lieutenant position became available.
“Mike was very receptive to stepping up and assuming the role and expressed an interest in the position,” Noble said. “He articulated a thoughtful and thorough understanding of the department’s goals and objectives, as well as a vision for the future of the department that was aligned with current initiatives and needs within the community.”
Thomas lives with his wife in Vergennes and he has three grown children and four grandchildren living in Vermont and the state of Georgia. He said he enjoys doing patrols and being out in the community and at Shelburne Community School.
“The community needs to know the police and the police need to know the community,” Thomas said. “We do so many different things, it’s important to be transparent and be in touch with the community.”