BOTKINS — After 43 years in law enforcement, Botkins Police Chief Tom Glass has officially retired.
But that doesn’t mean he is through with his career in public service. Glass, who served his last day on Friday, April 29, as police chief, still serves the village as the fire chief of Botkins. Also, he plans to return on a part time basis to the police department in July.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Glass said with a big smile at his retirement party, and then again later to the Sidney Daily News after his first weekend of retirement.
At the beginning of the year he learned he needed to retire by the end of May for his benefits, so decided he would be done by May 1.
“I’m excited. It is well deserved,” said Glass’ wife Melinda at the retirement party. “He has 43 years in law enforcement, 33 in Botkins. But he’ll still stay busy in the village as the fire chief. Retirement will not stop him.”
Glass, a Sidney native, followed his father’s footsteps into law enforcement. His father was a sergeant with the Port Jefferson Police Department, and so after graduating from Sidney High School, Glass attended the Ohio Basic Peace Officer Academy in 1979. After graduation, he joined the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in 1980 as a reserve deputy. Then in 1989 Glass was hired as a full time officer for the Botkins Police Department (BPD). In 1993, he was promoted to police chief. Glass said he also attended fire training not long after graduating from the police academy and initially joined the Jackson Center Fire Department until a spot opened up with Botkins Fire.
“I went into law enforcement to help kids and to work with kids,” Glass said. He recalled learning at the academy that if they could help or reach one out of five young people that was good, but Glass said only one kid wasn’t good, in his opinion.
“We created an Explorer Program for kids 14 to 21 (years old) who were interested in law enforcement,” Glass said when asked about what he was most proud of.
The Explorer Program is a year-round program established around 1999 and is available to any Shelby County youngster. The participants gets to ride with Botkins Police and wear their own uniform to learn what law enforcement is about. Glass said four young men have come through the program and gone on to a career in law enforcement, others realized it wasn’t for them.
Two of the students who participated in the program, Nick Soder, who now is a deputy with the Preble County Sheriff’s Office, and Dylan Leugers, who is now a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Springfield post, both spoke highly of Glass and their time in the program. They joked about which one was Glass’ favorite former employee, as they both also worked for BPD for a time.
“I owe all of my success to him (Glass). I was a sponge soaking up all of Tom’s knowledge,” Soder said, who went through the program until he aged-out and then was hired by BPD before going on to become a deputy.
Leugers said, “I would credit (Glass) with where I am today. I always wanted to be a trooper and was honest and told him that I wanted to eventually become a trooper. Botkins (Police Department) was definitely a stepping stone.”
When asked about the changes within the department over the years, Glass said two of the biggest improvements were the addition of in-car cameras and body cameras, as well as the use of computers. Cameras helps stop the “the he said/she said” and body cameras “keeps officers in check,” he noted. Computers eliminated recording by hand, and a provided the ability for electronic tickets. Worse types of calls, less respect, less respect for authority and violence toward officers are other changes Glass noted seeing since he began his career.
In 2021 Botkins and Anna Police both obtained some of the money seized from drug dealers who were busted during a pursuit. Around $107,000 and 3 pounds of marijuana were seized. Botkins’ part of the money received will pay for a new police vehicle, he said proudly.
Over the years he recalled several violent incidents he responded to, saying, “We have had every major crime that a big city has but on a smaller level. That’s why we get involved with the schools. To get to know the kids and see the good side and know that we are not the bad guy.”
“It’s not easy (to be an officer). You see the worst. You have to have the heart, but have to also endure the worst,” Glass said. “It’s not been all bad. We have seen some good too.”
BPD began participating in National Night Out a few years ago and feels it’s a good way to connect with the community in a positive light.
Numerous other friends, colleagues and family members gathered Friday at the Botkins Park shelter for Glass’ retirement party.
Several members of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office hand delivered a congratulatory monument from Sheriff Jim Frye honoring Glass for his years of service to the citizens of Shelby County and the village of Botkins from years 1980 to 2022.
Botkins new Police Chief Mark Jordan said, “Some people would call it bittersweet. I’ve known Tom for such a long time and we have accomplished some amazing things together. He will be missed. He may be a strong leader that we are losing today, but he stands within the blue lines. He is not going anywhere, it’s just time for him to step away for a little while. He is the fire chief currently; he was sworn-in in December and he will be in his retirement focusing on that. He may eventually come back and work part time for us.”
“I’m going to miss the people. That is the reason we are here,” Glass said. “I wont miss the call outs.”
Now Glass will have more time to spend with Melinda and the grandchildren. Glass looks forward to more time on their boat fishing and the ability to travel.
“I’m excited. It’s going to be different,” Melinda said with a smile.