Veteran police officer provides glimpse at East Liverpool’s history

EAST LIVERPOOL–With almost three decades in the East Liverpool Police Department, one would assume Tom Clark is ready to hang up his badge. One also would be wrong if he was consulted.

Clark remains as committed today as the first day he considered going into law enforcement.

Born and raised in East Liverpool, Clark never really thought about anything else since he grew up in the streets of East Liverpool and attended the Jefferson Technical Community College police academy. He also recognizes that the field has changed a lot in that 30 years.

“I have served under three police chiefs: Charles Cowan, Michael McVay and now John Lane,” he explains, adding they each have put their personal touch on the job.

When Clark joined the force most of what officers responded to was alcohol-related incidents, things have gone a little more hard core today. Acknowledging the presence of hard illicit drugs, like fentanyl and methamphetamine, he adds, “We now are dealing with a different breed of calls. With alcohol, it was mostly about hurting yourself. With these drugs, you hurt the people around you – your community, your family and your friends.”

Clark explains there is a tendency to steal from one’s family or shoplift at the local store to feed one’s habit. “Back then, there may have been underage drinking calls every night, but now they are very rare to get a call of that nature.”

In addition to the types of calls police encounter, the captain notes that technology has changed law enforcement. For example, when he started patrolman usually found themselves handwriting their reports and the detectives were the ones blessed with the typewriters. Today, police cruisers are equipped with laptops and some day there may be printers like some possess.

Besides his policework, which includes serving on midnight shift, Clark keeps busy. He has been part of the city’s Community Investment Corporation (CIC) for nearly one year. Even though getting the opportunity of embracing his inner history buff, he acknowledges that it is all pretty new to him.

“I’m pro-East Liverpool, so I have always wanted to see it progress. This is a way for me to do my part to see it happen,” he explained. “I wanted to give back to my community.”

The same reason given for going into law enforcement is also why he joined the Spring Grove Cemetery board, helping care for the city’s half of the cemetery (Liverpool Township is responsible for its half.) It is a family tradition, Clark explained. “My father started cutting the grass and now I help. The cemetery is an all-volunteer group, and we take pride in what we do.”

In his free time, which he acknowledges is few and far between, Clark enjoys time with his family, particularly traveling with his grandchildren. “I’m on the go 24-7, whether it is flipping a house or caring for rental properties,” he said.

However, his time on the force has allowed him to recount a lot of memories, whether it be Martin Sheen protesting WTI or a disturbed individual creating responding officers with dynamite. There also was the Seventh Street shooting, where dispatchers fielded a myriad of calls from a boarding house about a resident possibly holding a woman hostage.

Eventually officers learned there was no such hostage, but another close call made a memory.

Clark does think about a bucket list when asked. “I think I would like to be involved in city government, after I retire. Perhaps as a councilman, he explains. I am proud of my city and would like to help it going in the right direction,” he explains.

It appears retirement isn’t breathing down his neck, though. “I have four years left under the delayed retirement program. East Liverpool has been great to me, and I’m really not ready to go yet.,” he concluded.