Piedmont City Manager Clark Williams, right, presents newly hired Police Chief Tom Linn with his badge on Aug. 26. (Photo by Ben Felder)
On Aug. 25 Tom Linn was sworn in as Piedmont’s new police chief, bringing with him over 25 years of experience in the FBI and most recently serving as chief of the Blanchard Police Department.
“I take this oath very, very seriously,” Linn said shortly after being administered his oath of office. “It’s a commitment of not only my heart but my life, if necessary.”
Linn most recently served as the chief of police in Blanchard for over two years. His experience also includes positions with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations and Norman Police Department.
From 1976 to 2001 Linn was a special agent and relief supervisor for the FBI. According to his resume on file with the city of Piedmont, Linn’s time with the FBI involved task force management, foreign counter intelligence and violent crime investigations. At one point Linn was assigned to bank robbery cases in Los Angeles where the FBI responded to an average of 17 bank robberies a day, Linn said.
“I specialized in the FBI as a VCMI (violent crimes and major investigations) officer,” Linn said.
Linn said he also taught firearms and tactics to new agents while with the FBI.
“I have been involved in federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement for over 40 years,” Linn said in his resume.
Blanchard Police Department
Last year officers with the Blanchard Police Department filed grievances against Linn and the city and one officer expressed disappointment with not being hired as police chief. Linn said the grievances stemmed from disciplinary actions taken by the department but he could not address the specifics of a personnel matter.
“The police department and the city manager’s office responded to those grievances as required,” Linn said. “The grievances complained about disciplinary action taken that I am not at liberty to discuss.”
Linn said the majority of officers that have worked for him find him to be fair but he acknowledged that he runs a police department with high standards and holds his officers to those same standards.
“I am fair, I recognize that police, along with the rest of humanity, make errors,” Linn said. “But I do demand 100 percent compliance on three issues…integrity, honesty and professionalism. If we don’t have those three elements in our police department, how on earth can the community feel safe under our watch?”
Linn later resigned as chief in Blanchard when he said the political situation changed. Three new council members were elected in April and one of their first actions was to fire the city manager. Linn said he believed the same council would attempt to fire him and he decided to resign.
Tony Strickland, a reporter with The Blanchard News, told the Gazette that Linn had been caught in the crossfire of a messy political situation and that many people associated with the police department enjoyed working for Linn.
“I think he just wanted to beat the council to the punch,” Strickland said. “It was kind of a political situation more than anything.”
Running a police department
Linn said he would spend his first days on the job assessing the community and conducting a review of local crime and traffic accident data in an effort to target important issues. Linn said he knows former police chief Jerry Koester and that he has been working with him in an effort to be brought up to speed on the Piedmont community.
“The citizens are not only welcome to contact me but encouraged to contact me with problems,” Linn said. “The police cannot police the community by themselves; it requires the support of the citizens.”
Linn also said he wanted to update the police department’s database of local businesses. He is encouraging local business owners to verify that the department has emergency contact information for each business owner and secondary contact information that can also be used. Linn said business owners are asked to stop by the police station in person, call or send a letter.
“If there is a situation where we need to notify a business owner of a problem we want to be able to to so,” Linn said. “This information will be protected.”
Giving back to Oklahoma
Part of Linn’s desire to serve the community through law enforcement comes from the breaks he received as a kid. Linn spent most of his childhood living in foster homes and at the age of 9 went to live at Boys Ranch Town in Edmond for six years before eventually joining the Navy. The home for boys is sponsored by the Baptist church but Linn believes it is also the generosity of Oklahoma residents that supported the home and gave him a chance to succeed.
“The ranch literally saved my life,” Linn said. “It’s not just the Baptist (church) that helped raise me but it’s the citizens of Oklahoma that I felt helped raise me as a child through their support of the program.”
As Linn comes to Piedmont he is convinced that there are some in the community that helped provide support for children like himself and part of his desire to serve in law enforcement comes from his desire to give something back to the people of Oklahoma.
“There is no doubt in my mind that citizens from Piedmont helped support that ranch and people like me, and that’s why I am here today,” Linn said. “I feel a strong bond with the people of this state and have a strong commitment to the state of Oklahoma and its citizens.”
This story is an updated version of an article posted last week.