OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - Thursday was a bittersweet day for the City of Opelika, who said goodbye to their police chief and friend of many years.
It was an afternoon filled with laughter and tears as many people gathered to send Opelika Police Chief Tommy Mangham into retirement.
"The community is going to be in good hands, we're going to be ok, this department is going to be ok, but I am going to enjoy my retirement, my new chapter in life," says Mangham.
Mangham officially announced his retirement February 1, 46 years to the day he started as an officer at the Opelika Police Department.
The news came as a surprise to many in the community after learning Mayor Gary Fuller asked Mangham to step down, believing it was in the best interest of the city.
However, Thursday's ceremony was all about the Chief and what he has meant to the community.
"I'm happy I'm retiring, but after 46 years of serving the community and everybody talking about all my accomplishment, there's nothing really, the accomplishments are the officers out here doing their job, they're the ones who I had the privilege of supervising. They helped me grow and I helped them grow," explains Mangham.
Mangham says he looks forward to his new chapter, spending more time at home and traveling on mission trips with his church.
Although he is leaving, he couldn't be more grateful for the community that has become his family.
"They've been here during the good times to support us, but you know who your friends are and how a community feels about you when you're having difficult times and they come around and pick you up, not only physically, but also spiritually and I can't thank the community enough for that," says Mangham.