Penny Thomasson looks at a big, framed picture of her husband that shows the big deputy. She talks about the star on his chest. The badge.
The man is called “Sarge” by many people in a county of a quarter-million residents.
The picture shows the man countless people in York County have known over the 30 years he was a patrol sergeant. Not the guy battling colon cancer at age 54, with hospice called in to the house.
Sgt. Shawn Thomasson, so big, so tough, so strong, is now in what Penny Thomasson says is “grave” condition.
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“He loved that badge because it meant he could help people,” Penny Thomasson said. “He did help them. Every shift. Every day. We always have been so proud of him.”
The Thomassons have two children, Nicole and Jamie, and three grandchildren. But for many people in York County, Shawn Thomasson is part of the family, too.
“People come up to me no matter where I am and tell me how my daddy helped them, was good to them – even some that he arrested, and some that he decided didn’t need to get arrested,” said daughter Nicole Thomasson. “Everybody called him Sarge. And they always said Sarge was fair.”
Some cops even called Thomasson “Daddy.” Not a birth father, but the father who looked out for them, taught them.
“Shawn Thomasson loved every person that worked with him – and they loved him even more,” said former York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant. “Shawn Thomasson was a father figure for so many officers.”
At the sheriff’s office, Thomasson is a legendary patrol sergeant, SWAT member, negotiator for hostage and standoff situations, training officer. Dozens of young cops trained under Thomasson.
“Shawn Thommasson is an officer we all are proud of,” said current Sheriff Kevin Tolson. “A great officer. And a great man.”
Thomasson wanted to be a cop from the time he was a little kid in York, even through his time in the Army. He worked holidays, weekends, nights, his kids’ birthdays, more. He worked all of the overtime offered.
Rarely did he bring his work home. But sometimes there was no choice.
There was the time a classmate of his kids was gunned down, and he was the man in charge of the crime scene. Another time, where he had to cut an emergency airway to save a dying person; he saved a life with the tube body of an ink pen.
“There were a few times, babies that died in crib deaths, when Shawn would come home and look at our little children and he would cry for those babies,” Penny Thomasson said. “He wanted to save every one of them. Protect and serve – he was that in real life.”
Cancer treatments and surgeries have been part of life in the Thomasson family for the past year, too. Penny and Nicole urge anyone to get colon cancer screenings that might find problems before the problems are too severe.
The Thomassons said extended family and the motorcycle groups that Shawn rode with in his off-duty time have been extremely generous. And even just a week ago, when Shawn left the hospital for home and hospice, the police were there.
A sheriff’s office patrol car picked him up with blue lights flashing.
Other deputies, lights flashing, joined the line of police cars that wound out into the country, where Thomasson lives. Drivers pulled over for the procession.
One of them was Nicole Thomasson, his daughter.
“It was awesome,” Nicole said.
She watched and followed as those deputies, many of them crying, with their lights flashing, took Sarge home.