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story.lead_photo.caption Sgt. Virgil “Calvin” Thomas of the Cabot Police Department receives the 2019 Lonoke County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Thomas has worked for the department since 2005.

CABOT — Sgt. Virgil “Calvin” Thomas of the Cabot Police Department wants to help people in his community.

Thomas, 37, was recently honored by being named Lonoke County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Arkansas attorney general’s office.

“I like helping people,” Thomas said. “I’m grateful for the award. I’m not the type of person who has to be rewarded with stuff like this. I’m the kind of guy who just likes to work. I work hard and do the best I can for my department, do the best I can for my patrolmen that I supervise.

“It was very unexpected to get this. My lieutenant John Dodd is the one who put me up for that.”

Thomas said police officers don’t usually hear about success stories from helping someone in need or from someone they have arrested.

“Most of the time, I’ll tell my new guys or my officers that if I’m able to help one person succeed in my career, then I think I’ve done my job,” he said. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of actually being able to help somebody through whatever troubles they may have.”

Thomas recalled one incident earlier in his career.

“One that I distinctly remember was a drug arrest,” he said “We got quite a bit of drugs off the guy. I saw him a few years later at a restaurant, which kind of made me uneasy. He told me, ‘You may not remember me, but I’ve really changed my life around since then. That day really helped me out.’

“You do hear some success stories about people you have helped. Most of them, you may never know.”

Thomas grew up in northern Pulaski County. He graduated from North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville in 2000. While he was still in school, he worked in customer service at Metropolitan National Bank for several years before working at Trade Fixtures New Leaf Designs in Little Rock. In 2005, Thomas joined the Cabot Police Department as a patrolman.

“It’s kind of something I’ve always had the notion to do,” Thomas said of going into law enforcement. “I started my career doing customer service at the bank. I really enjoy helping people. I kind of wanted to get into law enforcement. Once I did, I knew it was something I wanted to do.

“It has set me up for the rest of my future. I really enjoy it.”

Thomas attended the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in East Camden, beginning in July 2005.

Thomas has worked his way up in the department. He was promoted to sergeant in May 2016.

During his time with the department, Thomas joined the Special Operations Response Team, which is a tactical team.

“I worked my way up to assistant team leader, and I assist with doing the monthly training and helping team leaders with warrant calls or search-warrant calls we have to go on,” he said.

He also attended Field Training Officers School. Thomas said he also helps train new officers with the FTO School.

“Once I got into that, I really liked training,” he said. “I went to Instructor Developing through the academy. I was able to actually teach more classes, not only on the FTO side but to help at the Police Department teaching classes.

“As soon as I got done, that’s when I went to firearms instructor school. That way, I could assist with all of our firearms qualifications and help out the guys here with that.”

Dodd said Thomas is one of the hardest-working police officers he’s ever met.

“Besides just being an outstanding officer, he takes it to heart one of his duties as an FTO trainer to help our younger officers or newly hired officers and really teach them the basics of police work, doing things the right way, how to work hard and keep themselves and everyone else safe at work,” Dodd said. “When he goes out for training, he always brings that stuff back to our department and tries to share it with everybody so we all have the most up-to-date information on training, tactics or ways to deal with situations.”

Dodd also said Thomas is a leader for the department.

“He leads by example,” Dodd said. “You’ll most often find him at the front of most any situation. He leads from the front. He does things the right way all the time. He doesn’t cut corners. He tries to do everything the right way and be fair with everyone.”

Longtime Cabot Chief of Police Jackie Davis said Thomas is an asset to the department.

“Sgt. Thomas is an outstanding and professional supervisor,” Davis said. “He truly serves as an example to other officers. We are proud of his accomplishments and service to our community.”

Thomas said he doesn’t have any long-term aspirations within law enforcement, other than to get better.

“Being a chief is something, as of right now, I’d say ‘no,’” Thomas said. “I still think that I have more years of training experience that I need to be added to my field before I can feel comfortable leading a whole department. I would like to work my way up to lieutenant and captain, then see as that road progresses.

“If that opportunity would come up in the future, it’s something I would definitely look into.”

Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or mbuffalo@arkansasonline.com.

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