It's going to be strange seeing Capt. Thomas Bosley without his Stetson.
But after nearly 35 years with the Maryland State Police, he figures it's about time to sport something different -- such as a gardener's hat.
Bosley will retire today from his position as commander of the Central Troop -- headquartered in the Waterloo barracks in Howard County -- one of the many hats he wore during his time with the force.
"I've had a long, wonderful career that has been fulfilling and enlightening," said Bosley, 57, nicknamed "Stetson Bosley" by his officers because he insists troopers be suitably capped while on duty. "But we've got roses on my property [near Mount Airy], and I think I'll just stop now and start to smell the roses."
Bosley, a lifetime Carroll resident who graduated from Westminster High and the State Police Academy at Pikesville, began his career in 1958, working 14-hour shifts and getting paid an annual salary of $3,450.
"There were only two shifts and no overtime. You handled everything on your patrol, from homicide to suicide," said Bosley, who became a trooper first class in 1962. "There was one car per patrol. You could forget about backup, because there was none."
His career moved successfully through several promotions and transfers, beginning with an assignment with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Westminster barracks.
"I believe I enjoyed my time [at Westminster] more than any other assignment, because it was the only time where I was involved in everything," he said. "I handled many cases and went out to do the investigations."
Bosley, who was promoted to corporal while at Westminster, was transferred to Frederick in 1968 to head its CID. After six years in Frederick, during which time he became a detective sergeant, Bosley was named to the CID at state police headquarters in Pikesville, in charge of the Field Detective Section.
"By that time, I stopped all investigation and became the person who sent other officers out, who was reported to from time to time," he said.
During his nine years at Pikesville, Bosley earned the ranks of second and first lieutenant, becoming assistant commander in October 1977. He became a captain in January 1981 and became commander of the Special Services Division, which included covert operations, narcotics and seizure of property.
"My goal was to become a lieutenant in the police force and stay in for 30 years. I have exceeded both of these," said Bosley.
He elected not to return to Central Troop after a reorganization under which the troop will comprise the Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard, Baltimore and JFK Highway barracks.
"Many of those areas have their own police forces, and the state police may be limited to patrolling the interstate," he said.
Over his long career, Bosley says, the organization has allowed certain aspects of its fine image and reputation to become tarnished.
"The state police trooper always stood out. They had an enviable reputation for quality, able law enforcement," Bosley said. "They had a familiar, well-dressed look, too. Now they have these short-sleeved shirts with no ties.
"And there has been a change in the standard of conduct. You see so many more instances of officer misconduct these days. If you didn't abide by the strict standard before, you were fired."
Despite the many changes he feels the police force has undergone, Bosley looks back fondly upon a career that was enjoyable and dangerous at the same time.
"I'd tell anyone interested in law enforcement that the Maryland State Police offers an excellent opportunity," Bosley said. "They can expect a lot of hard work, good pay, varied hours and a rewarding career."
Bosley says he has no plans for going back to work in any capacity, except to cultivate his vegetable garden and enjoy retirement with his wife of 33 years, Martha.