TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Sgt. Dan Thom has been serving with the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office for about 20 years. He's also worked with the city police for a few years.
"I started in law enforcement in 1994, joined the reserve program and did that for a couple of years and then I got hooked on the job and then I started full-time in 1996," Thom explained.
He told KMVT that he went on a ride along so many years back and got addicted to it.
"It’s probably like a drug addict, the first time you take a drug and it’s so exciting, it’s exactly what happened to me. I love this job and just playing the game, police man," he said.
The other part of the job he loved was serving the people.
"Serving is just as important to me as the excitement. I still love the chasing people and arresting bad guys, but serving and helping people has become more important now," he explained.
Thom was the face of many Facebook videos, educating the community on safety issues. That program is part of what Sheriff Tom Carter had wanted to do when he was running for the position.
"We did that to humanize the badge. I think that’s a great way to say it. Some people when they look at us and they see the badge on us, They’re cops and that’s all they are," he explained. "The idea was to brand the sheriff's office as a human part as a relationship we have with the county."
Carter said they plan to continue that, even without Thom.
"There’s going to be somebody else that I’ve picked that will take over what he does. You can’t replace Dan, therein lies the problem," Carter continued. "You can pick really smart people and I've got really smart people that can do everything he does but that doesn’t mean they’re going to replace him."
Carter and Thom have been working together for most of Carter's career. Even when Carter was a sergeant and Thom was a patrol officer.
"You know Dan, he was the obvious guy to go to. He’s been my go-to guy since I’ve been in office," he said. "We’re friends. We’ve been friends for 20 years. I respect the heck out of him and vice versa. I, all the time, have people coming and going but this one is awful, I really, really don’t like and I couldn’t be anymore understanding."
Thom plans to move Thailand and serve the people there.
"My wife and I have been interested in working overseas for 13 years. So, for the last 13 years, we’ve been going to Thailand every year for two weeks," he continued. "We’ve been taking a team and there’s an orphanage that we go to and we do some work and we have a great time."
They wanted to serve the community and the church here in Twin Falls.
"Just be part of what God wants me to do. I love travel, I love adventure and this just another great adventure, so I knew it was time to go when I knew financially I can do it," he explained.
While he's hanging up his badge and uniform, he said he will always be a cop.
"I will always sit in the back corner of a restaurant and watch the door. I will always talk to people with my hands above my belt and I’ll always be on guard, because I’ve been doing it for so long, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop trusting people. I think that’s a big thing, is it’s going to be a different level of trust," he said.
After serving more than 20 years in law enforcement, he will be serving in a different way.
"Maybe not bringing the justice as much as the grace, but it’s going to be important in my later part of life," he said.
Some advice Thom has as he leaves is to listen to the public.
"One of the things I think is so important for administrative purposes, I talk with the sheriff all the time, as Dan and not as sergeant, Tom you have to be able to relate with the guys on the street, because the guys on the street literally make an apartment run and he knows that," he said.
Advice for the deputies and officers is to not look forward to the future of the job.
"Don’t look for the end, look for tomorrow. Because when you start looking at 'I’m going to retire after this many years.' You can’t do that. Look for tomorrow, because I love my job tomorrow. I love my job," he said.
Thom's last shift was Sunday. You can watch his emotional end-of-watch call below.