James Rada, Jr.
Inflation rising. The Middle East in turmoil. Sections of the U.S. witnessed a solar eclipse. Paul McCartney played in groups that had one of the top songs of the year.
And so it was when a 23-year-old Greg Eyler became a police officer with Thurmont in 1979, and so it is as he retires on December 1, after 44 years as a police officer, the last 18 of which were as the chief of police of the Thurmont Police Department.
“It’s time,” Eyler said. “I’ve been here 18 years, which is really unheard of for a police chief.”
Eyler is believed to be the longest-serving police chief in Thurmont; although, for some reason, no one is able to verify the service dates for Chief Herman Shook, who happened to be the chief who hired Eyler as a police officer in 1979.
It was Eyler’s dream job. He grew up on Church Street in Thurmont and would see Thurmont Police pass by while he was out playing ball with his friends.
“I always heard and saw that they did a great job, and that’s what I wanted to do.”
Eyler graduated from the Montgomery County Police Academy in August 1979. He served as a police officer in his hometown until November 1980, when he transferred to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
As a sheriff’s deputy, he trained in many areas over his 25 years with the sheriff’s office. In September 1990, he was the first ever to receive the Department Commendation for Valor. He attended and graduated from The FBI National Academy in 1994. He retired from the sheriff’s office as a major in 2005.
He retired because then-Mayor Marty Burns and Commissioner Bill Blakeslee visited him to ask if he would consider becoming Thurmont’s chief of police. He thought it over for about a week before he accepted.
“I like challenges,” Eyler said. “This was a challenge, and I never regretted any of it.”
When Eyler took over as chief, the Thurmont Police Department had seven sworn officers and two civilian employees. They worked out of 500 square feet at the back of the old town office building.
“We had an I-bolt that went through the wall to the outside,” Eyler said. “That’s how we held our prisoners.”
Today, the department has fourteen sworn officers and six civilian employees in a modern building on East Main Street.
While Eyler and the department had many achievements during his tenure (see sidebar), he is most proud of how he improved the relationship between the police, the citizens, and the town staff.
“They did not get along back then, but you need to because that’s how you solve crimes when you all work together,” Eyler said.
He encouraged his officers to get out in the community and get to know the people they were protecting. As they did, respect between the community and the department grew.
As he prepares to retire, Eyler has no regrets.
“I think I did everything I could for the town, and they were appreciative of that,” Eyler said. “I’m a hometown boy, and this is what I wanted to do here in the town of Thurmont: Make this department one of the best that I can and make this town as safe as I can.”
Eyler has no plans for retirement. “I’m going to do what my wife, kids, and grandkids tell me,” he said.
He knows retirement will require an adjustment, beginning when he gets up in the morning and has to decide what to wear since his closet is full of uniforms. “I think I have to go shopping now because I don’t have anything to wear,” he said.
“Chief Eyler has served our community and the residents of Thurmont in an exemplary manner. I can’t thank Greg enough for his professionalism and dedication to the Town of Thurmont. Our residents’ safety has always been his highest priority, and for that, we are sincerely thankful and appreciative,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.
Lt. David Armstrong will succeed Eyler as the new chief.
Mayor Terry Best swears in Thurmont’s newest Police Officer in 1979.
Chief Herman Shook welcomes Greg Eyler to the Thurmont Police.
The Town of Thurmont listed a number of achievements of the Thurmont Police Department under Chief Greg Eyler’s leadership when it announced his retirement after 18 years as the chief of police. During his years as chief, he has:
Initiated and managed the design, construction, and transition to the current TPD headquarters.
Expanded the department from 7 to 14 authorized sworn police officers and 6 civilian employees and expanded the Department training program to include specialized training.
Created and implemented a Detective/Investigator Position, Narcotics Detection K-9 Program, and Code Enforcement Officer Program.
Developed the TPD Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Values Statement, website, and social media account.
Expanded and redesigned the TPD vehicle fleet and department logo.
Developed and implemented first-ever Department Rules and Regulations and Job Descriptions for all employees; civilian and sworn; TPD’s first Disaster Plan for potential terrorist incidents and weather-related incidents; Special Operation Plans for Active Assailant Response, Police Involved Shooting Response, and COVID Response Plan.
Implemented state-of-the-art technology systems to allow for integration with other police agencies, including mobile data computers, in-car video cameras, LPR (license plate readers), E-TIX software, and body-worn cameras.
Enhanced community policing efforts by providing training from The Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute for all sworn personnel.
Created and implemented a TIPS line for anonymous tips from citizens and Thurmont’s automated speed monitoring program.
Joined the National Child Safety Council, which provides educational material relating to drug and alcohol issues, senior citizen scam assistance, missing and exploited children, and school safety.
Presented and received approval of the first-ever departmental pay scale and LEOPS program.
Coordinated, implemented, and managed Response Plans for large events, including G8 Summit, demonstrations, rallies, and the annual Colorfest event.
Expanded community outreach programs to include National Night Out, Safety Pup, traffic-calming initiatives, bicycle safety, and child safety seat installations.
He is a member of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, The Maryland Municipal Police Executive League, and the FBI National Academy Associates.
He has been recognized as CHS Distinguished Graduate for Public Service; Lions Club/Shumaker Roofing Officer of the Year and received the Enforcement Commendation medal presented by The Sons of the American Revolution.
During his tenure, the Town of Thurmont has been recognized as one of the safest communities in Maryland numerous times.