AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson announced to his officers Tuesday afternoon he would be retiring on July 1.
Just before he met with his law enforcement family, the Auburn police chief sat down with News Leader 9's Elizabeth White to discuss the Parkinson's disease that's forcing him to retire much earlier than planned and why he hopes prayer and time with family will be the cure he needs.
"I have regretfully realized I am no longer able to continue as Chief of Police, due to my health and I will be retiring July 1st," said Chief Dawson.
Choking back tears, Chief Tommy Dawson revealed it was time to leave the department and focus on his battle with Parkinson's, based on the advice of doctors and urging of family.
"My daughter is 20 years old, I have been here 26 years and she said dad I think you need to retire and I am going to listen to her," Dawson said.
Dawson says his close relationship with his only daughter, served him well in law enforcement, especially while protecting thousands at Auburn University.
"I couldn't imagine what their parents thought when their children came here, I know my own child is here and I can look after her, so I always tried to treat these students like they were my own," Dawson said.
Dawson says in his 26 year career, the hardest moment came when he met the father of 18-year old freshman Lauren Burk, who was murdered after being kidnapped from campus.
"I will never forget meeting Jim Burke on exit 58 and taking him to the hospital and to the morgue to see Lauren and his reaction to seeing her and thinking about my own child, that is by far the toughest thing I have ever done," Dawson said.
Through the dark times, Dawson always leaned heavily on the Lord.
"One of my favorite verses of the Bible is Job and says the Good Lord givith and he taketh away and he blessed me with this job, blessed my while doing this job I will be waiting to see what he has for me next," said Dawson.
Dawson is looking forward to a quiet retirement, surrounded by his family and faith.