As one member of the Thompson family retires from the Pasadena Police Department, leaving behind a legacy of service to the city’s youth, another member of the family is setting out to create a legacy for himself in the same agency.
Sgt. Glenn Thompson, 58, retired in December after 30 years on the job, most of his tenure spent as a part of the Community Services unit, where he served as advisor to Pasadena PD’s Explorers’ post.
Cavanaugh Thompson, the sergeant’s son, started his career with Pasadena PD about a year ago and is close to completing the probationary phase of his training.
The senior Thompson left an impression on countless youth within the community, and many have credited him with getting them on a positive path when they were at risk of heading in the wrong direction.
“Having him as an example, it would be nice to be the face going forward for the millennial ages and younger, that once these guys retire, they can have someone to look to,” Cavanaugh said of his father. “I saw how he did it, so I wanted to kind of take over with that once he retires.”
Glenn Thompson made it a point to bring his young son Cavanaugh and his sister along for Explorers’ outings and other community outreach projects, instilling the idea of giving back at a young age.
“They fed the homeless, recycled aluminum cans and made it a point to take neighborhood kids to the beach or other places outside the neighborhood they may have been too poor to visit.
“Instead of us getting our allowance, we would volunteer in the less fortunate areas of the community and then our allowance would reflect such, Cavanaugh said. “Just because he had a salary that afforded us the opportunity to travel and have nice things growing up, you still had to earn everything for yourself.
The values Thompson instilled in his children were the ones instilled in him as a child, growing up in South Central Los Angeles, the second youngest of six children whose father was a former U.S. Marine.
They ate as a family and went to church as a family, Glenn once recalled.
At the start of every day, they had to clean their rooms before doing anything else and anything less than a B on a report car was unacceptable.
“If I wanted anything, I had to earn it,” Glenn Thompson said. “I was the type who always saved my money all the time. I would ask people if I could cut their grass and wash cars. When I was raising my son, I instilled a lot of discipline because I want to make sure he goes in the right direction. So if I give him something to do, I want him to know it needs to get done.
Cavanaugh was 14 when he first gave consideration to a career in law enforcement.
Then the younger Thompson went through what he called his “rebel phase” wanting to forge his own path outside of law enforcement.
But the more time he spent watching his father on the job, seeing the love and respect he had earned from kids his own age, he experienced his own transformation.
“You still see how respected he is in the city by all the kids who are your age and it’s like, maybe he is a great person and I’m just overblowing the rules and the constraints that I had at home,” Cavanaugh said. “Then that’s when I realized there is something positive that came with that strict discipline.”
Like his father, Cavanaugh was a good athlete in high school, garnering interest in some NCAA Division 1 colleges for basketball and football.
At about age 21, Cavanaugh revived his aspirations of becoming a police officer.
He went on to complete the high-stress Orange County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy and then applied to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and to the Pasadena Police Department.
Since Pasadena PD has a policy against nepotism, Cavanaugh’s hiring had to be approved by the command staff.
“I can truthfully say he didn’t get hired because I work here,” Glenn Thompson said. “He got hired because he went through the whole process and passed.”
As far as meeting the demands of the job, the elder Thompson has no doubt his son will excel.
“Because I know how he was raised and I know how he treats people,” the retired sergeant said. “I don’t have to worry about it. I know he is going to do the right thing and he is going to always treat people the way he want’s people to treat him.”
Still, the father has the same concerns as any parent whose child chooses a career in law enforcement.
“I just worry about that one crazy person who is out there shooting cops because they don’t like the uniform,” Glenn Thompson said.
At least one member of the command staff who has spent plenty of time with both Thompson’s is thrilled the legacy will continue.
“One of the best things he’s (Glenn Thompson has) done is with kids and community service and engaging the community,” Commander Art Chute said. “Glenn has probably been a surrogate father to a lot of people, but he is really Cavanaugh’s dad. So that is pretty special.”
Pasadena Police Sergeant Glenn C. Thompson, left, and his son officer Cavanaugh Thompson prepare to go out on patrol together at the Pasadena Police Department on December 5, 2019. (Photo by James Carbone)