John Thomas is a native of Los Angeles. Prior to his appointment to Captain at the University of Southern California (USC) Department of Public Safety (DPS) in October 2006, he spent twenty-one years as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) where he retired at the rank of Lieutenant in December 2005 to accept a position as Deputy Chief of Police for the University of the District of Columbia Department of Public Safety & Emergency Management in Washington D.C. He was promoted to USC Department of Public Safety’s Assistant Chief in February 2009 and Executive Director/Chief in January 2013.
A product of South Los Angeles, he graduated from Crenshaw High School before attending UCLA. He holds a BA in Political Science/Liberal Arts and holds a Master’s Degree in Executive Leadership from the USC Price School of Public Policy.
As a member of the Los Angeles Police Department, Chief Thomas worked patrol assignments in Wilshire, 77th Street, Southwest, Newton Street and Pacific Divisions. He was also assigned to the Department's Gang Enforcement Detail in South Los Angeles, Operation South Bureau CRASH and worked undercover narcotic enforcement as a member of the Department's FALCON (Focused Attack Linking Community Organizations and Neighborhoods) Unit. While assigned to FALCON he was awarded the City of Los Angeles’ City Angel Award for outstanding community enhancement and the Department's Meritorious Unit Citation.
Chief Thomas has been on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Police Historical Society since 1999. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Los Angeles, the Police Officers’ Association of Los Angeles County (POALAC) and the LAPD’s Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives (ABLE).
He is also a member of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation and the FBI National Academy Associates.
Despite being a retired Los Angeles Police Lieutenant, he continues to “Protect and Serve” the people of Los Angeles as an LAPD Line Reserve Officer working patrol and other assignments throughout the city.