Former Mandeville Police Chief Tom Buell, who led the police agency for 30 years, died Monday (Feb. 11) after a long battle with cancer, the department announced. He was 68.
Mr. Buell started at the Mandeville Police Department in 1971 and became chief in 1974 at the age of 24. He joined the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office two years later and returned as chief of the Mandeville department in 1980. He retired in January of 2009.
In a 2009 story in The Times-Picayune about Mr. Buell’s retirement, he was credited with converting the department “from Mayberry-like beginnings into a modern, laptop-equipped force” that maintained its focus on community policing. Upon retiring, Mr. Buell vowed to devote more time to his horse farm where he satisfied his well-known passion for horses.
“Chief Buell set the bar for community oriented policing,” current Police Chief Gerald Sticker said Wednesday. “He was a dedicated public servant who gave 100 percent to his department and to the citizens of the city of Mandeville. He will be truly missed.”
Mr. Buell’s tenure as the city’s top cop ended amid controversy over his questionable management of a Christmas charity fund that was used in part to provide gifts to city employees and elected officials.
He acknowledged that he should not have used his Christmas toy charity to buy the gifts.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our former leader and friend, Chief Tom Buell,” the Mandeville Police Department said in the Facebook post. “Tom’s family is in the thoughts and prayers of his MPD brothers and sisters.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.