Police officer 'retires' into job of county's 1st chief deputy sheriff


The Thomas brood has law enforcement in its blood.

Two of Dale R. Thomas' brothers were Baltimore City police officers. His son, Michael, is a criminal justice major at Anne Arundel Community College. Mr. Thomas, a 25-year veteran of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, retired June 30 to the rustic peace of Centreville in Queen Anne's County.

But he didn't stay away long.

Yesterday, Circuit Court Clerk Robert P. Duckworth swore him in as the county's first chief deputy sheriff.

Sheriff George F. Johnson IV created the position, which became effective July 1.

"I enjoy law enforcement," Mr. Thomas, 46, said in explaining why he accepted the job.

His first duty will be to come up with a security plan for the new Circuit Court building, the first stage of which will be completed in fall 1996. He also will rewrite the department's rules and regulations manual, work on getting the department national accreditation and act as the sheriff's right-hand man.

"I feel very comfortable that he's here with me," Sheriff Johnson said. "He will have the best interests of the department in mind."

Sheriff Johnson and Mr. Thomas have known each other for 25 years. They worked together during 1989 in the Police Department's staff inspections unit.

Even before November's election, Sheriff Johnson knew that if he defeated incumbent Robert G. Pepersack he would ask Mr. Thomas to be his second in command.

"Dale was part of my team we set up right from the beginning," he said. "We both shared the same ideas and values. . . . He thinks like I do. I think we both are going to be able to take this office to higher heights."

Mr. Thomas, a quiet, balding, soft-spoken man, was born in Baltimore. His family moved to Brooklyn Park when he was 13. He graduated from Brooklyn Park High School in 1967 and attended Baltimore Junior College in 1968 and 1969.

He joined the county Police Department in 1970 and was promoted to sergeant in 1986. He and his wife, Sharon Lynn Thomas, 38, have four children. In addition to Michael, 21, they have a daughter, Christine, 19, and sons Kevin, 17, and Bradley, 6.

Mrs. Thomas was nearly as taciturn as her husband in reacting to the news of his appointment, but did say she likes his new working hours. Mr. Thomas will be working days for the first time in years.

"After 25 years of shift work, I won't know how to act," she said.

Bradley, in yellow shirt and black pants, clung to his father's leg and nodded when asked if he liked to collect toy badges such as the "Junior Deputy" one he wore proudly across his chest.

"He wants to be a baseball player and a policeman -- both at the same time," Mr. Thomas chuckled.

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