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A retired lieutenant from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office known for his jovial demeanor and his reputation as a “good cop” died Wednesday, June 4, at the age of 63.

Thomas “Tommy” Buckler, a lifelong Calvert County resident, joined the sheriff’s office in 1974, making him just the sixth deputy hired, according to an obituary posted on the website of Lee Funeral Home. Years ago, he served as a mentor for many of the senior officers who fill the office now.

Over the course of his career until his 2006 retirement, Buckler worked in every division within the office, and played a key role in creating the Special Operations Team, the obituary states.

But those who knew him professionally oftentimes connected with him on a personal level as well, so that in addition to his “good cop” reputation, he also garnered other titles: “mentor,” “brother,” “friend.”

“He had the biggest personality of anyone I know,” said special projects coordinator at the sheriff’s office Robin Cox, who worked under Buckler for about 15 years. “He’s one of the best people I’ve worked with. … I’m just full of things that I remember Tommy by.”

In addition to Buckler’s comedic ways — longtime friend retired Lt. Col. Tom Hejl said he couldn’t go too many sentences without telling a joke or “cracking a wise crack” — Cox said he was also key to her success in law enforcement.

When a new position was created in the Investigation Division, Buckler encouraged a reluctant Cox, who was working in Road Patrol at the time, to consider the position, despite what she described as her fear of the unknown. Finally, with Buckler’s guidance, support and nudging, Cox applied for the position, where she said she “flourished under his direction.”

Buckler helped younger officers launch their careers as well. Capt. Steve Jones, who has been with the office for 25 years, said that when he and other young officers first started there, Buckler made a point to take them under his wing and, for Jones, “turned out to be a really good friend.”

He was big on not judging people on how much money they had, their race, background or where they were from, but rather, by the way they treated others, Jones said.

“Suspect or victim, he had a way with people,” Jones said. “If he ran into someone who he locked up, it was like they were old drinking buddies.”

And it was his mission to make other people laugh.

“On people’s worst day, Tommy was the one that could bring a smile to their face,” Jones said.

It was this affinity for people and his knack for talking with them that earned Buckler the “good cop” designation in the estimation of Hejl, former Maryland State Police trooper and former assistant sheriff at the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office.

“Tommy knew how to close cases and Tommy was astute in working cases,” Hejl said. “Realistically, the way you solve cases is you talk to people. A good cop will be out there talking to people and following leads.”

At the time that Buckler was a new deputy, Hejl had also started as a trooper. The two formed a friendship — even when they were working for separate law enforcement agencies, Hejl said Buckler would ride with him after hours, looking for “crooks to lock up.”

In 2002, when Hejl started work at the sheriff’s office, their career paths crossed again, and Hejl said they ate lunch together almost every day.

Although he’s no longer there, the sheriff’s office is still crowded with those who remember him — and, in one case, share his name to continue his legacy.

To what Jones said was Buckler’s “great pride,” his older son, Thomas “Trey” Buckler III, joined the office as a deputy about two years ago.

Buckler’s younger son, Nicholas, also has aspirations to follow his father into law enforcement, Cox said.

The retired lieutenant also leaves behind his wife, Judy, the obituary states. His greatest joys in life were spending time with his friends and family, and watching his sons play high school sports.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.

“I hope he’s in Heaven playing golf with his dad,” Hejl said.

afrazier@somdnews.com