Monroeville man was ‘the most sincere police officer you’d ever meet’
During his lengthy career in law enforcement, T. Craig Thompson was nothing if not resourceful, even if the resource he used was nonexistent.
“One night he was on patrol down by Airgas on Route 22, maybe about three in the morning, and he saw a flash in his peripheral vision,” said longtime friend and former WPXI anchor Alan Jennings. “It was two flashlights.”
Mr. Thompson called for backup and grabbed his bullhorn as he went around to the rear of building, where the back door was open and a pickup truck was parked.
“He grabbed the bullhorn and said, ‘This is the Murrysville police: you have 10 seconds to come out, or we’re sending in the dogs,’” Jennings said.
Very quickly, two men exited the building, and as they were being placed into a squad car, one piped up, “Where’s the dogs?”
“Craig just smiled and said, ‘What dogs?’” Jennings said with a laugh. “He was passionate about police work and keeping the community safe.”
Thomas Craig Thompson of Monroeville, formerly of Murrysville, died Sunday, June 2, 2019. He was 81.
Mr. Thompson was born March 4, 1938 in Pittsburgh, son of the late Thomas and Violet McNab Thompson. He attended Duff’s Business School and the University of Pittsburgh.
After jobs as a cost analyst with U.S. Steel, and as an industrial salesman for Raybestos Manhattan, Mr. Thompson began a police career that spanned more than two decades, starting out as a patrolman in Edgewood before working his way through the ranks to become Murrysville police chief. He worked as a Westmoreland County detective out of Greensburg.
“We met when I was a school counselor in Murrysville and he was a police sergeant with the local department,” said Mr. Thompson’s wife Sylvia. “For our first date we went to a Christmas party.”
The couple married Nov. 23, 1983.
Sylvia said her husband always wanted to be a policeman.
“When he was at U.S. Steel, he thought that sitting behind a desk in a white-collar job was just not something he wanted,” she said. “He liked catching criminals and helping people, children especially.”
Mr. Thompson was part of a local task force that led to undercover work infiltrating drug organizations.
“Craig was an impressive law enforcement leader who served the Murrysville Police Department and community well,” said current Murrysville Chief Tom Seefeld. “He was a faith-based, kindhearted man who had a positive impact on those he worked with and those he met. It was an honor to have known him.”
Former Murrysville District Justice Robert Scott has known Mr. Thompson for nearly three decades.
“He spent a good deal of time helping people he’d met who were hurt during the course of his job, whether it was children who’d lost their parents or things like that,” Scott said. “He had certain values that were never compromised. He did what was right and nobody could talk him out of it.”
Sylvia said her husband often earned the admiration of those he’d arrested.
“We’ve been in restaurants and people who’d been incarcerated would come up and tell him thank you,” she said. “He was the most sincere police officer you’d ever meet.”
Mr. Thompson is survived by his wife, Sylvia Moglia Thompson, a daughter, Judi (Josh) Malino of Springfield, NJ; a stepdaughter, Julie DelCotto (Chris) Prykull of New York City; and four grandchildren.
Visitation will be Thursday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Murrysville Alliance Church, 4130 Old William Penn Highway. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 39 will conduct a 7 p.m. service at the church.
A 10 a.m. funeral will be held Friday at Murrysville Alliance Church. Interment will be at Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont.
Memorial donations can be made to the church, or to the ASPCA (Humane Animal Rescue), 1101 Western Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15233.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .