UPDATE: Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois to retire in February

Becky Campbell • Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 5:49 PM

Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois said his plans for the day after he retires will consist of three things — he won’t shave, he’ll have an extra cup of coffee and then sit back and listen to the birds.

That day will come sooner rather than later.

Sirois, 61, read a statement to city staff, officers under his command and local news media Thursday morning that said he will retire Feb. 16.

“To serve this community as a police officer for nearly 26 years has been a dream come true, and to serve this department and city as chief of police for the past five and a half years has been a special honor, of which I remain humbled and privileged,” he said. “This career has satisfied my calling, which I believe is to serve others and positively impact lives.

“While I’m not sure the exact way in which I will do that starting in February, I know it is something I will continue.”

In reading his statement, Sirois became emotional at times, particularly when talking about the support his wife, Kay, had given him through his career. She retired several years ago from teaching school in Johnson City, and the two said one thing they’ll have time for soon will be traveling.

Sirois joined the police department in 1991 — when he was 35 — after earning a bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University. He had a career in graphic design prior to deciding police work was the route he wanted to go.

He worked his way up through the ranks — serving as an investigator, patrol sergeant, administrative lieutenant, administrative captain and operations major — before being named interim chief in May 2012 after John Lowry retired. Ultimately, the position would become Sirois’ full time.

When asked about his achievements as chief, Sirois said among his biggest was fostering a relationship between the police department and community through advancing the Community Police unit.

“Community policing encourages cooperation and collaboration with citizens to solve short- and long-term community problems,” he said.

Sirois initiated the grant-funded Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project in the Mountain Home and downtown areas. It proved to be an effective method to reduce crime and enhance public safety with a “collaborative, multidisciplinary approach,” he said.

That program led to the formation of the Johnson City Community Roundtable, which was designed to further foster the police department's relationship with the community,

After the news conference, Vice Mayor Jenny Brock said — in a joking manner but also totally serious — that she was sure there was a board where Sirois could serve.

Administrative Major Debbie Botelho said the command staff as well as rank and file officers had expressed their sadness to see Sirois leave.

“He’s such a good leader, and he’s such a good person,” Botelho said. “Everybody’s sad he’s leaving.”

City Manager Pete Peterson said Sirois is respected not only in Johnson City, but also across the state.

“He is one of the most level-headed, judicious men I have ever known,” Peterson said. “He’s wise and fair and cares deeply about the well-being of others, and that extends to both his officers and our citizens. This is a loss for our organization, but we are grateful for the legacy he leaves.”

In addition to bolstering the community police unit, Sirois has boosted the department’s officer recruitment program, including reaching out to schools, colleges and universities and minority populations.

Since becoming chief, Sirois had an “open door” policy to ease tension for officers who wanted to address him directly about concerns or issues they might have had.

“During his tenure, Sirois has been progressive in addressing employee morale and job fulfillment through an open-door policy, employee recognition, career development and training, and equipment and technology enhancements,” Peterson said. “He has brought a personal touch to the chief’s office.”

Peterson went on to say that under Sirois’ leadership, “the department has grown and realized numerous improvements in service levels and delivery. He will be missed, but we wish him well as he enjoys his next phase of life and continues to serve others.”

The city will begin the process immediately to find a new chief, and will look in-house as well as countrywide for the right fit.

Sirois is a member of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, and served as the chairman of the organization’s Alarm Management Committee. Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Sirois to represent the organization on the state’s Homeland Security Council. Sirois also served as chairman of the Tennessee District 1 Homeland Security Law Enforcement Committee for several years.

Both Sirois and his wife said the announcement was “bittersweet,” but after having sacrificed birthdays, holidays and anniversaries over the past 26 years, they are eager to spend those times together without interruption.

VIDEO of Sirois’ announcement:

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