From career beginnings in Detroit to head of the ATF, retiring director reflects on his roots

On his last day on the job, the deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Eexplosives returned to Detroit, to where it all started.

"It's been a true honor and I really wanted to come back to Detroit and just say thank you," said Thomas Brandon, retiring head of the ATF.

Brandon's first day with the bureau was also in Detroit, when he started as an agent in 1989. Now that he's ascended to the peak of the department, where he spent around four years working, he's reflecting on his life and the climb he made to make it to the top.

"What I learned here in Detroit from working under the direction of very good former Detroit police officers who became ATF agents helped me lead this agency," he said.

A former marine, he said he's always been motivated by the mission, and the agents and the people they all serve. His work varied, from high profile crime scenes to terror attack responses. And not to mention the local law enforcement he also helped - a notion that feels more important now than ever before.

"ATF is more relevant than ever to bring value to the American public," Brandon said. "Particularly when it comes to gun violence."

One of his greatest honors he said, was leading the agency under two presidents - both of who asked for him to stay on. However, those accolades may triumph another accomplishment, raising his son who is now following in his footsteps.

"If there's anything I've left for the ATF, I've left a better version of me in my son," he said.

Brandon is 59 years old, two years after the mandatory age of 57. With plenty of time left, he's now looking forward to walking his daughter down the aisle when she gets married.