Assistant Capitol Police Chief Tom Reynolds is pictured in his office at Capitol Police headquarters.
Reynolds didn’t even describe his experience running the force of about 1,775 sworn officers and 370 civilian employees as a particularly stressful one.
For one thing, he said he felt prepared, having served in almost every facet of the force over the past decade and a half.
“Obviously as assistant chief, when the chief’s on leave I’m in charge anyway,” Reynolds said. “I guess I look at it as, I had the confidence I could handle things. It was just having the leadership ability and getting the rest of the organization to follow you.
“I think we did that,” he continued. “You go and ask any of the troops out there and they’ll tell you I’m a straight shooter.”
There were some challenges, he conceded, especially because, as Reynolds described it, Morse didn’t help much in the way of transition on his way out.
But Reynolds, ever unflappable, only chuckled as he described being thrown into the deep end just in time for National Police Week, when the president comes to the Capitol to participate in a ceremony honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Then came the summer concert series, when severe weather prompted mass evacuations at the very last minute.
Another part of Reynolds’ job as acting chief was dealing with the grievances of the Capitol Police Labor Committee, whose leadership contended that Morse left Reynolds with the hard task of defending bad policies he had put in place or allowed to persist without intervening.
Reynolds denied that union interactions were a thorn in his side, saying he always had a good relationship with union President Jim Konczos and he didn’t see union-management disputes as defining his tenure.
He didn’t say much about what it was like to be passed over by the Capitol Police Board to assume the role as full-time chief in favor of an outsider.
“It was rumored I’d put in for the job and yes, I did, and some of the other chiefs did, too,” Reynolds said. “And they picked the best man for the job. He’s here and we’re here to the support him.”
He didn’t make it sound like a slight, saying he loved the department that “protects the legislative process” and that’s been a home to him.
Reynolds’ career started with another officer who climbed the ranks alongside him and was directing traffic with him that cold day in January 1985: Dan Nichols, who preceded Reynolds as assistant chief before he left in 2011.
“It’s a very rewarding job here. You sit on the sidelines of history, if you think about it,” Reynolds mused. “Everyone does. The officers ... we try to make them realize how important they are. Unlike Dan Nichols and Tom Reynolds standing out there in the intersection freezing 26 years ago!”
He laughed and shook his head.
Of coming full circle, Reynolds said it’s “surreal.”