After almost three decades with the Capitol Police, having served at the very top of the command ladder — including a stint as the chief — Assistant Chief Tom Reynolds is leaving the force.
His last day is Friday, when he’ll retire to take a job at a private security company as the district manager for government services.
Though he didn’t want to disclose the company’s name, Reynolds said he’ll be working in the local office of a national operation.
“It was kind of a mutual thing,” he said of how he came to take the new job. “I’d been looking, and they found me.”
Reynolds was in the running to become the full-time Capitol Police chief as he served in the acting capacity during the gap between the departure of former Chief Phillip Morse and the selection of Kim Dine, who was sworn in nearly four months ago.
But his decision to retire wasn’t prompted by being passed over for the job by the Capitol Police Board, he insisted.
“Hey, I’ve had almost 29 years here, I have mandatory retirement at age 57 and I’m going to be 54 in April,” Reynolds said, adding that money was also a factor. With the private sector job and the retirement check he’ll receive from the Capitol Police because he’s been with the force for more than 25 years, it’s a not a bad way to land.
“I’m not leaving because I have any problems here, everything’s going great,” he said. “It’s been a great place to work, I’ve loved the people, and in almost 29 years that I’ve worked here, I’ve seen a lot of things happen.”
As a Capitol Police officer, Reynolds has worked on every presidential inauguration dating back to President Ronald Reagan’s second swearing-in ceremony in 1985, a day so cold that festivities were moved indoors while Reynolds and his colleagues had to stay outside directing traffic. In 1989, he served on Vice President Dan Quayle’s dignitary protection unit, and took on increased responsibilities in orchestrating the first inaugural celebration following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
For President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January, Reynolds pretty much ran the show — a high note on which to leave, to be sure.
But Reynolds also had his low points during his six-month tenure as acting police chief. Officers accused supervisors of enforcing made-up policies and violating the tenants of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the union cried foul over a 1,000-page packet of new directives it said it had never had a chance to review.
In the end, Reynolds was able to heal some old wounds and help dueling factions see that severe communication breakdowns might have contributed to some of the most crippling tensions.
When he was passed over for the chief slot in favor of a leader who could provide a fresh set of eyes, many officers said Reynolds simply had the bad fortune of inheriting problems that were created and allowed to fester before he got there.
Reynolds said he had no regrets.
“It’s been a good time. This place has been very good to me and it’s been a pleasure and an honor working for Congress, too,” he said. “They [lawmakers] always get a bad rap in the press, but they’ve always taken good care of the Police Department. I’m grateful for that.”
As for who his replacement might be, Reynolds said he didn’t know.
“I know Chief Dine is working through that process right now,” he said. “I’m sure he wants to do something right away. He doesn’t want to keep this position open for very long.”
Though Dine would not comment on the timeline for naming Reynolds’ successor or discuss possible candidates, he did issue a statement congratulating his No. 2 on his departure.
“With his wealth of knowledge and experience ... in the areas of law enforcement and policing, Department operations, and the Congressional procedures, Assistant Chief Reynolds’ retirement leaves huge shoes to fill,” Dine said, adding that Reynolds “played a critical role in moving the Department forward and keeping the Congressional community safe during very challenging times.
“He has been a great leader and mentor,” Dine continued. “We wish him the best in retirement and his future endeavors.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.