For nearly 10 years Tom Boren has led the El Dorado Police Department as chief of police, instilling a strong work ethic and character in the department.
Friday will be Boren's last day before he retires.
"It's going to be a big change in our lives," Boren said.
"I've enjoyed it here. It's been a good job."
He said El Dorado has been the best place he has worked.
"It seems like every year our folks get more and more proficient and professional," he said.
Boren first got his introduction to police work right out of high school when he got to be a station officer in his home town on a grant. He did dispatching, report writing and watched the jail.
"Prior to that my dad was arrested a lot," Boren said of his police experience, adding that he didn't think badly of police officers because of that.
"When I became a policeman years later I started at Fredonia."
He began as a reserve officer there in 1977.
Boren had not had a dream of being a police officer when he was younger.
"It kind of crept up on me," he said. "It seemed to be something I had a knack for – dealing with people.
"I got to go to a lot of classes and trainings that were unusual. That stretched my thinking about law enforcement."
Boren became a certified crime prevention specialist, as well as an EMT.
After spending five years at Fredonia, Boren moved to Coffeyville in 1982, where he held the positions of patrolman, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, captain and duty chief. In 1997, he took a job as police chief for the cities of Paris, Ill., in 1997 and Olney, Ill., in 2000.
"I have been a lifelong learner," Boren said.
Some of his education includes hundreds of hours of advanced training ranging from the DEA Basic Investigator's course to the Executive Management Program of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety. He also completed the American Institute of Applied Science Forensic Science course of instruction in criminal investigation and fingerprint identification, as well as attending the DEA's Basic Drug Enforcement Investigation course. He attended the 182nd session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., in 1996.
He said his lifelong learning led to him trying out for management jobs.
"I have had really good luck having mentors," he said. "They were men of integrity."
In 2003, he returned to his home state of Kansas to take a job as police chief in El Dorado. May would have been 10 years for Boren in El Dorado.
Page 2 of 3 - He has seen several major cases over the years, one of which that received national attention was the Mireles murder case.
"That was a tragedy for the family," Boren said.
He said it was an interesting case though and had many technical aspects.
Then there was the kidnapping of a 12-year-old girl by a man from Canada.
"That was significant because the crime had already been committed and they were out of our jurisdiction by the time we were notified," he said.
The officers networked with other agencies and saved the girl from possible white slavery, prostitution or even being murdered.
"That was a great learning tool and good case," he said because of the work with other departments.
"We've had a lot of cases that were really heart wrenching," he continued.
One of those was the death of the Haag baby.
"We don't sleep," Boren said. "We don't take time off when those things happen. It's full court press until we get results."
While not all cases are that big, they are all important to the department.
"We go from speed control up to investigating homicides," he said.
There also are many rewarding aspects of the job.
One such event that came to mind for Boren was a lady who called to tell him she saw one of his officers stop and help an elderly lady shovel the snow out of her driveway.
"That's what we have tried to develop here," Boren said. "It is our neighborhood. It is our home. It's amazing the culture we've been able to develop here. Public safety is about helping others."
That is reflected in their vision statement for the department, which states the department is a "fortress, a place where our strengths are focused and weaknesses are shared. We embrace a commitment to professional and individual integrity and strive to always put these ethics into practice."
It goes on to talk about being men and women of character and to provide an unbiased protection and safety for everyone in the community.
"My hope is our vision statement promotes guys to look at themselves in different ways," he said. "I want to see those who want to make an investment in the community."
He said sometimes officers have the mindset of just going out and getting the bad guy then getting on to more interesting cases.
"We start here with the mindset every officer is an investigator," he said, "not just filing reports, but trying to solve the case on their own. I think it makes them a better police officer if they feel like they make a difference."
Page 3 of 3 - He said they are routinely able to recover stolen credit cards, stolen mail or stolen identifications, something other departments their size may not make a priority.
One unique tool they have that not all departments have is a polygraph, for which they were able to send an officer to be trained, allowing them not to have to outsource that work now.
"I think we hold our own as far as in-house, state-of-the-art facilities," Boren said.
They also are able to put some theoretical applications to work.
"One of the things we talk about is having developed a team atmosphere about putting our weaknesses together and helping each other out, as well as putting our strengths together," he continued. "When we start thinking about developing a culture of excellence or professionalism, there are so many templates. One of the values we can all share is we have to make sure we're not above the people we serve."
Boren puts a lot of emphasis on promoting and championing good character.
Over the years, Boren has seen some changes in police work, one of which is accountability.
He said when he first got into police work one didn't question policies. Now officers want to know why they do things.
"Police work being more and more open is a good thing," he said, "but sometimes it is taken as a weakness. How we operate needs to be open to the public."
Boren also is active outside the police department. He has served the community through such civic organizations as the Lions Club, Kiwanis Club and Rotary International. He also is active in his church and volunteers in a local museum.
After retirement, Boren and his wife, Julie, will remain in the community. Their family is here and his wife is still working in El Dorado. Boren hopes to get into teaching and consulting in the future.