Opelika Police Chief Tommy Mangham to Retire

February 1, 2013

The City of Opelika announces that on February 28th, 2013, Chief Thomas Mangham will be retiring from the Opelika Police Department after forty-six years of service, twenty-two years as Chief of Police.


“Tommy Mangham has fully earned his retirement.” Stated Mayor Gary Fuller, “After over 46 years of service to this city and a record 22 years as our Chief of Police there is no question about his dedication and loyalty to our community.  Chief Mangham led the charge to implement new technology which included our 800 trunking system and mobile data.  I believe, thanks to Chief Mangham, that our police department is the most advanced in this area and maybe the state with technology.  His goal was to make sure our officers had the ‘tools’ that would help them do their job in a more efficient manner.  I am most grateful to Tommy for his years of service to our community.  Tommy Mangham is the very epitome of ‘serve and protect.’ He has been a great chief and leaves a legacy of achievement.  My very best wishes to him and Mickey for much future success.”


Chief Mangham began his career as a Parking Control Officer on February 1, 1967. He worked his way up through the ranks, serving in nearly every division. He was the Assistant Chief of Police from 1988 to 1991 to then Chief Dan Davis. On October 15, 1991 he was promoted to Chief of Police. He is the longest serving Chief of Police in the history of the Opelika Police Department.


During his career he has been awarded the Medal of Honor. He has also served as a past President of the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police. He serves as Chairman of the 911 Board. He is also currently serving on the Implied Consent Board for the State of Alabama and is also current Chairman of the Education Committee of the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police.

When Chief Mangham began his career in 1967 there were sixteen Police Officers, one Parking Control Officer, and five police cars. Through the years, and through his leadership, the department has grown to eighty-four sworn officers; and adding in civilian personnel, the total number of employees is slightly over one hundred people. The police fleet now includes fifty-three vehicles. He has served through tough times at the department as well, having been there when two officers were killed in the line of duty and three others having been shot.


Chief Mangham submits that some of the milestones of his tenure as Chief of Police are, the installation and use of the 800 Trunking Radio Systems, consolidation of the jail with Lee County Detention Facility, starting a Canine Unit, the Citizens Police Academy, and the Opelika Police Department’s annual Youth Camp. Chief Mangham is also proud of the Mobile Data System, part of which allows computer aided dispatching of calls for service and the completion of police reports in the patrol cars because every police unit at the department is equipped with a computer. He is proud of the fact that all Opelika Officers have bulletproof vests; there are still some departments where that does not occur.


Chief Mangham lists as his accomplishments as beginning and maintaining the DARE Program in partnership with the Opelika School System and being able to work with the many changes of city leadership and council members throughout the years. Dealing with budget constraints, personnel retention, and allocation of resources were also some of his more difficult challenges.

Chief Mangham says some of the major changes he has seen throughout his law enforcement career have been the technological advances, and the changing dynamics of society as a whole. Drugs and Family/Domestic Violence issues are now forefront issues for all of law enforcement. He has also seen a greater need for the education of officers both in the performance of their jobs and training as well as their ability to keep pace with the various changing technologies.


Chief Mangham counts among his many blessings as having served with many good officers, both past and present, and serving a community who truly appreciated the department and its officers. He appreciates the many friends he made, in and out of law enforcement, and sees his retirement as opening a new chapter in his life. He has always considered law enforcement officers as his family and does not see that changing with his retirement.