Retired Police Lieutenant's Legacy: "Along the Way"

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A Rapid City Police Lieutenant recently retired after more than 31 years on the force.
He's never been one to seek the spotlight.
But after all these years, we wanted to know more about the man 'behind the badge'.
We look at the legacy of retired Lieutenant Tom Senesac, as we go 'Along the Way', with the Rapid City P.D.

Tom Senesac was a recently married college graduate in Minnesota, when he got a job offer from the Rapid City PD in 1985.
Retired Police Lt. Tom Senesac says: "And the catch was I had to start Monday morning and he was calling me on the previous Thursday. So all I did was load up all my clothes and everything in a 1973 Chevy Malibu and drove to Rapid City."

Just 24 years old then, retired now, we can reminisce with old pictures on a computer screen. He had to wait for a 3 day weekend, before his wife Linda could come join him, and they could begin a life here in Rapid City. No kids yet. And a distinguished career ahead.

Ret. Police Lt. Tom Senesac says, "I've been on the SRT or Special Response Team or people call it the SWAT team. Served on that team for 10 years. Was a detective for I think 15 years working violent crime cases primarily."

As time went on they had 3 kids: 2 girls and a boy. And you can tell this long term law man was also a family man. The kids kept growing. They're now grown up.

"I gotta tell you, I'm proud of all my children. They're all wonderful. They all do wonderful things, and they're all gonna do wonderful things," Senesac says.

Just as he did wonderful things, on the force. He remembers his last day. Retiring as a Lieutenant overseeing the entire Criminal Investigations Division.

"And they made me leave and they made me shut my office and log off my computer," Ret. Lt. Senesac says. "And they took me down the elevator and the doors opened up."

We see and hear people clapping loudly for the retired Lt. in the lobby.

Tom Senesac says, "It was way over the top. and they caught me off guard."

But that's not the end of the story, because the little guy here, Tom's son, is now this guy here: Patrol Officer Nate Senesac.

Tom's son, Patrol Officer Nate Senesac says as he talks to a driver at a traffic stop, "Let's have a looksee at that insurance real quick to make sure that's all up to date."

That's right, Tom's son Nate, is following in the footsteps of his father.

Tom's son, Patrol Officer Nate Senesac says, "Every time we put on the uniform or put on our badge, and we have our patches, or we wear anything the department issues us it's a representation on our department and it's something bigger than us."

Ret. Police Lt. Tom Senesac says, "I'm happy he found something he's interested in doing and that he enjoys it. I'm happy when he's happy."

Nate has only been on the force for about a year and a half. He works the night shift, driving dark streets.

"I even wake up in the middle of the night, thinking my son's out there driving around. You know, wondering how things are going, what he's on, that kind of thing," says Retired Police Lt. Tom Senesac.

This plaque was given to Tom at his retirement party. The plaque itself reads "Rapid City will always be at it's safest with a Senesac on watch".
Among the well wishers, Chief Karl Jegeris calls Tom an "RCPD legend". It binds the two Senesac's both by name and profession. 2 generations: Senesac and son.

Tom's son, Patrol Officer Nate Senesac says "I don't want to look at it like I have to be better. I just want to be the best that I can be in my career, to put the Rapid City Police Department in a positive light."

Just like his dad. Which brings us back to the lobby on Tom's last day.

Tom says, ( Clip 4 @2:54) " And I look over at the front entrance, and there's my family. (2:58) And there's Nate, in uniform and the guy doesn't work days, he works nights and I don't have a ride home, because I had to turn in my car. and Nate says, come on, I'm giving you a ride home in a squad car."

We hear the sound of applause for the retired Lt. in the lobby.

So what is Tom's legacy here? Nate says he's heard from detectives his dad worked with.

Patrol Officer Nate Senesac says, "How much they learned from watching him and doing the same things he's done and how much it's helped them. Once he became an investigator, it was just, that's what he will be remembered as, is a detective."

Retired Police Lt. Tom Senesac says, "I'll worry about him, but you worry about your kids doing anything. I'm very pleased. He's my legacy actually, he's it.

Nate says he plans to retire from the RCPD just like his Dad did.
As for Tom, retired less than 2 weeks, he says he won't be a stranger at the PD, and plans to stop in and visit from time to time.

If you've met someone cool "Along the Way" please call or e-mail me at Stevel@blackhillsfox.com to let us know.