Friends and colleagues of Lacey Police Lt. Loreli Thompson looked back on her 30-year career in law enforcement during her retirement ceremony Friday at Lacey City Hall.
They remembered Thompson’s triumphs in solving difficult cases when she became a detective in 1984. She learned to speak and understand Vietnamese to help solve the 1992 slaying of the owner of the Tea Leaf II restaurant in Lacey. Her work also helped put Lacey serial rapist Gary Easterbrook in prison, former Thurston County prosecutor Phil Harju remembered.
“That case never would have been solved without the work of this detective,” he said.
Fellow officers – current and retired – praised Thompson’s heart and brains as they stood at the podium in the council chambers. They said that as a police officer, she always was compassionate and caring, whether investigating child-sex cases or mentoring officers.
Others said Thompson was a trailblazer, setting a standard of excellence in the 1980s at a time when women were not always readily accepted in the world of law enforcement.
Thompson holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Washington State Patrol Capt. Mark Couey said the patrol and other law enforcement agencies statewide seek Thompson out for her expertise in child sex-abuse investigations.
Thompson retired as the head of the multi-jurisdictional Thurston County Narcotics Task Force, which she has supervised since 2005. She started her career with the Lacey Police Department in 1981, working patrol. Before, she worked as a 911 dispatcher in Thurston County.
Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint said Thompson was Lacey’s first female officer in Lacey to attain the rank of lieutenant. She’s also the city’s first female officer to retire with 30 years of service, and its first with a Ph.D.
Thompson spoke last during the ceremony, reminding officers to take care of one another and remember why they do their jobs.
“You’re here to help the helpless, the victimized, and the people that have no one else to turn to,” she said.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465