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West TN Police Chief Retires after 50 Years in Law Enforcement

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

MCNAIRY COUNTY, Tenn. - Dozens of residents gathered at the community center in Bethel Springs to celebrate local police chief Thurman Sowell's retirement after 50 years on the job.

"He is one of those guys that if anybody picks on him, the rest of the town piles in to protect him," said John Talbott. "The whole county has been blessed to have him."

Friends and family threw a retirement party for Chief Sowell at the community center, Saturday. Sowell, also known in the community as "Pee-Wee," told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that he has tried to retire in the past, but has not been able to walk away from his duties.

"Well when it get's in your blood, it's in your blood," said Sowell. "I never have run anybody down and caught them, and I sure couldn't do it now at 80 years old. I'm not as fast as I used to be."

Residents said they trust and respect Sowell, who has been with Bethel Springs police department for more than 14 years.

"Pee-Wee's a fine fellow," said resident Jane Parro. "He takes care of older people. His shoes will be hard to fill and he will be greatly missed."

People attending the retirement party said Sowell is known for being an active officer, taking time to show how much he cares about the people he protects and serves.

"He does a lot for everybody around here," said resident Belinda Comer. "If you need something, even in the middle of the night, Pee -Wee will come help you."

Sowell said he will miss his duties as the chief of police, but the journey is far from over.

"Me and the wife, we are going to hit the road and be like Willie Nelson's 'On the Road Again','' said Sowell. "Bethel Springs has been good to me. I've learned a lot and I've really enjoyed it."

Sowell said although he is retiring as police chief, he will not be out of law enforcement completely. He plans to continue working for the county as a constable through 2014.