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Behind the Badge: Deputy John Thomas handles potentially explosive situations in Utah County

Behind the Badge

SPANISH FORK (ABC4 News) – You might do a double-take when you first see Deputy John Thomas. If he looks familiar, it’s probably because his twin brother James was featured on Behind the Badge last October. The former wombmates now have parallel but very different law enforcement careers.

John is a Patrol Deputy and a Bomb Squad Technician for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. James is a Conservation Officer for the Division of Wildlife Resources – and they’re practically mirror images.

“A lot of my coworkers would approach him and he’d be like ‘What are you lookin’ at me for? Do I owe you money? Why are you starin’ at me?’,” John told Behind the Badge. “If he’s standing side by side with me, you could tell us apart. I’m clearly a lot chubbier than he is and it’s always been that way. I have a nice round face and he’s got a little skinny face.”

John, a former K-9 handler, looks pretty good considering a police dog mauled him during a training exercise seven years ago. He was on the ground in a bite suit when the K-9 lunged.

“The dog just got a little feisty and went up and bit my face, kind of ripped a lot of my bottom lip off and then some bit marks up on the cheek,” Deputy Thomas said. “But two surgeries later and I look brand new…My face was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Six months later, Deputy Thomas switched from dogs to detonations when he joined the Bomb Squad in 2014.

“Any call you’re going to is a little scary at some point,” Deputy Thomas said. “I think the biggest things that are the scariest is doing demolitions on like old fireworks, fireworks that don’t go off on some of this major stuff, they bring them to us and we demo ’em. Whenever they find old dynamite out in the desert or something like that we have to go dispose of that. It’s all pretty dangerous.”

Despite the big booms, Deputy Thomas says his most memorable moments have been quietly helping out people in need, like one time when he saw a family being evicted from their house on the day before Thanksgiving.

“When they were moving their stuff out, their children were coming out, grabbing bread from underneath the couch and starting to chew on it, just trying to find food and stuff like that, and here they are getting evicted,” he recalled. “So I and the other deputies that were there on scene tried to give them what we could, like ‘Here’s some money. Go get some food’.”

Whether it’s hungry kids…or wildlife, the Thomas Twins are always looking for opportunities to serve and protect.

“I guess it’s just kind of how we were raised, always trying to help people,” Deputy Thomas said. “It’s just kind of the path we chose.”

For the record, John claims he has a cooler job than James as if you could compare bombs and bears, and they’re not the only Officer Thomases in the family. Their older brother Dan is an officer with the Riverton Police Department. 

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