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El Dorado to honor retiring police chief

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at 2:32 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 11, 2013, at 3:17 p.m.

Among the many things El Dorado Police Chief Tom Boren has learned during his 36 years in law enforcement is that officers in small communities must be resourceful.

“We’re kind of in the backwaters,” Boren said. “We don’t have some of the hardware and resources that are available to the bigger places.

“When that’s the case, you have to really rely on innovative and capable people who know how to reach out and network with folks.”

Boren, 56, is retiring after spending the last 10 years of his career as El Dorado’s police chief. A retirement party honoring him will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at the city commission room of City Hall, 220 E. First St., El Dorado.

Deputy Chief Curt Zieman will serve as interim chief. The department has 28 officers to serve the town of about 13,000 people.

Earlier this week, El Dorado police used networking with local businesses to arrest a Wichita man who had been shoplifting such high-end items as electronics. The police used video images obtained from the stores and parking lots to identify the man and alert other law enforcement agencies, Boren said.

“We’re a small community, so the career criminal thinks that, ‘Well, I can operate pretty easily here and no one is going to catch up to me.’ ” Boren said. “It’s kind of cool when a plan comes together.”

A native of Nowata, Okla., he took a job working for Pizza Hut in Fredonia but was soon hired by the town’s police department at age 19.

“I don’t recommend it,” Boren said of starting police work so young.

Five years later, Boren joined the Coffeyville police department, where he remained for 15 years. He spent six years working for departments in two small Illinois towns before returning to Kansas in 2003 to head the El Dorado police force.

Two high profile cases Boren’s department has worked were the rape and murder of an 18-year-old Butler Community College student in 2007 and a Canadian man taking a 12-year-old El Dorado girl in May 2012.

Israel Mireles was convicted in the crimes against the student, Emily Sander, and was given a life sentence in 2010.

Stewart Kenneth Cody McGill, 21, of Ontario, pleaded guilty in February to one count of traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with the 12-year-old. His sentencing is set for April 24.

El Dorado police worked with other agencies in using triangulation of McGill’s cellphone to track his movements. He and the girl were found in Michigan.

Boren said that kind of technology wasn’t available five or six years ago.

“I look at my young guys and can’t even imagine the resources they’ll have in 10 years,” he added.

One of the points he said he tried to encourage is that every officer is an investigator.

“We want them to have ownership, build and dig down,” Boren said. “We make a lot of cases that maybe other agencies our size that wouldn’t take the time and energy to do.”

El Dorado City Manager Herb Lewellen said Boren’s work will be missed.

“He has such a unique understanding about police work and management,” Lewellen said. “You often get senior police leadership who know all about police work. You rarely get anyone who has the breadth of knowledge of organizational dynamics and management skill sets that Tom does.”

Boren and his wife plan to stay in El Dorado where their grown children, both daughters, and their four grandchildren live. He has two degrees from Friends University and plans to look into teaching.

“It’s been a great career,” Boren said. “There’ve been an awful lot of fond memories of people you get to know and people you’ve helped. And believe it or not some of them are folks you deal with.

“There are some folks who needed to have a serious wake-up to realize, `Wow, my life really isn’t where it should be.’”

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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