Star Thomas was introduced as the new Chief of the Portland Police Department on October 20th. While Chief Thomas is not new to the department, we thought it would be fun to help our readers to get to know her a bit better. Chief Thomas graciously agreed to answer our 20 questions. Some questions are serious, some not so much.
Congratulations on your new position Chief, and thanks for playing along.
The Portland Beacon: Where are you from originally?
Chief Thomas: My childhood was divided exactly in half between the Grand Rapids area and Manistee County. I lived in Chicago as a young adult.
TPB: Why did you choose a career in law enforcement?
CT: An aunt made the suggestion after I went to her for career advice; I had dabbled in other professions and couldn’t see myself doing them long term. I started taking criminal justice classes and never looked back.
TPB: Where did you go to college?
CT: My associate’s degree was earned at Grand Rapids Community College, and my bachelor’s degree was earned through Herzing University.
TPB: Do you cheer for the Spartans or the Wolverines?
CT: My husband says I’m a Wolverine fan…
TPB: How long have your worked for the Portland Police department?
CT: Almost 13 years.
TPB: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
CT: Salted Caramel
TPB: Can you explain how your department enforces the seasonal no parking on city streets?
CT: City ordinances restricts parking on the city streets between 2a – 6a from November 1st through April 1st. We issue warning letters for the first couple of weeks in November to get residents used to the idea of enforcement before parking tickets are issued. Residents can call the police department if they have an overflow of parking due to special events or unforeseen circumstances, and we try to accommodate based on weather or projects by the Portland DPW.
TPB: What is your favorite movie?
CT: McFarland, USA
TPB: What do you see is the biggest challenge for you professionally while transitioning into your new position?
CT: My biggest transitional issue so far has been accepting that I have to work fewer investigations in order to spend the time necessary for the administration side of my position. I consider myself very fortunate to have been promoted to a position that still allows me to work alongside the other officers in the department.
TPB: Why would you suggest that a resident follow the “Portland Police Department” Facebook page?
CT: The FB page has been a great way to let us connect with our community. We post on local law- enforcement news and updates, safety concerns, and events happening within the department.
TPB: What do you see is the biggest public safety concern(s) in our community at this time?
CT: I don’t see Portland as having one single, big concern – instead, there are smaller issues that could become a serious negative for our City if we don’t work on them. Blight is one of those issues. Kids that have to be left unsupervised or who are without adult guidance is another.
TPB: What is your favorite band, music group or singer?
CT: I can’t pick just one. I listen to almost everything.
TPB: How many full and part time officers does the department employ today?
CT: We have 7 full time and 2 part-time officers when at full staffing levels.
TPB: What is the coolest place you have ever visited?
CT: The Eben Ice Caves (MI), Red Rock Canyon (NV), and Volcano National Park (HI).
TPB: Can you tell us about Portland’s involvement with the DARE program?
CT: We’ve eliminated the DARE program beginning with this current school year because it limited the age groups we teach. Instead, Officer Fandel has been trained to instruct T.E.A.M programs – a Teaching, Educating, and Mentoring school liaison program targeted for Kindergarten through 12th grade.
TPB: Can you share one thing about you that most people may be surprised by?
CT: I love to learn – I have woodworking and learning to play the guitar and piano on my current “to do” list.
TPB: What do you enjoy most about working in law enforcement?
CT: Getting to know everyone in the community and the variety each day brings.
TPB: What is one destination on your bucket list?
CT: The Netherlands (My ancestry is very Dutch)
TPB: With human trafficking a major problem in Michigan, and Portland’s close vicinity to a major expressway, do you feel Portland faces any increased risk as opposed to other communities?
CT: I don’t think our locale puts people at a greater risk for falling victim to human trafficking, but there have been reports of our kids being groomed over the internet and enticed to leave home. Also, I can think of one case specifically where we identified a potential victim who was in Portland from another area, so Portland is certainly not immune to the crime.
TPB: What is the best way for a resident to contact you as the chief with a concern?
CT: Any way that works best for them. My direct dial phone number is 517-647- 2934. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome anyone to stop by the department at any time or to grab my attention while I’m working out of the office.