After a 46-year law enforcement career, Manchester Police Chief Tim Walsh has exchanged his badge for retirement. On Jan. 5, he passed the baton to Lt. Craig Smith, who will serve as the department’s interim chief.
Walsh graduated from the St. Louis Police Academy in 1973. For nearly 10 years, he worked as a street patrolman and sergeant in the north St. Louis County township of Velda Village. Then, in May 1983, he accepted a position with the city of Manchester.
During his 35 years of service to Manchester, Walsh witnessed the growth of the community and its police force. As a new hire, he joined a staff of just 17 officers; today, the force boasts 39 officers.
“I absolutely love the community and the people who live here,” Walsh said in a recent interview. “Together with my wife, Sally, and son, Adam, we have built a life here that includes an outstanding working relationship between officers and the community.”
Walsh has worked in virtually every aspect of law enforcement, including field operations, special operations, investigations, emergency management and the detective bureau. In 2009, Walsh was named acting police chief just in time to move the department into its new headquarters at 200 Highlands Blvd. Shortly after that, the city’s Board of Aldermen formally named him chief of police.
As chief, Walsh said he is most proud of the department’s service programs, such as its CERT [Community Emergency Response Team] training and its Citizens Police Academy, which he helped to develop. Additionally, he spoke highly of the department’s longtime sponsorship of two very successful public charity programs, Clean Up for Special Olympic and Shop with a Cop. Clean Up for Special Olympics, an event in which police officers bus tables [for the past 11 years at Tucker’s Place West], has raised $117,000 over its 13-year history. Shop with a Cop is an annual event that benefits about 100 underserved local children each Christmas season. In addition to receiving a $100 shopping spree, the children receive a new coat and pair of sneakers.
“Those activities [and others like them] have helped to develop and maintain a very close and supportive relationship between the Manchester community and its police department. I’ve always considered the community’s support to be essential in providing for the effective delivery of public safety services.” Walsh said.
Walsh said he hopes to continue to volunteer at those events as a civilian; however, next on his list is pursuing his love of fishing. For the last nine years, Walsh has traveled annually to Lake Michigan and biennially to Canada to fish.
“Basically, I’ll fish any place that has water,” he said.
Walsh said he also might pursue another of his lesser-known passions: writing. Driving cars between dealerships is another possibility. While Walsh is uncertain as to exactly what the next stage of his life might bring, he jokes that he’s open to suggestions.
“I care very deeply for the men and women who provide safety and security services to the community. I hope and pray that they are treated well,” Walsh commented. “I have always considered it a highly treasured privilege that [Manchester residents] would grant me the opportunity to serve as [their] chief of police.”