John Martin Thot, 64, a retired inspector of the Metropolitan Police Department and a former commander of its communications division, died Sunday at his home in Woodlawn, Md. He had cancer.

Insp. Thot was born in Columbus, Ohio, and grew up in Watertown, N.Y. He attended Syracuse University in New York and later moved to Washington.

He was appointed a police cadet in 1941 and a private on the police force the following year. For the next 26 years, he was a traffic officer. He served in the department's motorcycle unit, held numerous other positions, and rose through the ranks. In 1963, he was promoted to captain and put in charge of traffic division's field operations and enforcement unit, the accident investiation unit and the public vehicles bureau.

His career was marked by more than traffic citations and accident reports. In 1945, Insp. Thot, then a private, was awarded the department's Silver Medal for Valor for pulling a child from the path of a car that was skidding out of control.

In 1951, while a corporal, he accidentally was wounded in the leg by another police officer who was firing his revolver at a fleeing suspect. In 1956, when he was a sergeant, he was almost shot in the back by a deranged woman on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. A friend warned the officer that a woman was pointing a rifle at his back as he was tending to his motorcycle at the curb, and Sgt. Thot avoided the shot and arrested his assailant. In 1957, he received a National Humanitarian Award for helping to save horses in a stable fire.

He was promoted to inspector in 1968 and named director of the communications division. Insp. Thot was responsible for supervising the installation of the department's modern communications system, which allows rapid development of the police to points of trouble. The system includes the Washington Area Law Enforcement System (WALES), a computer system that allows operators to check on whether suspects have charges pending against them.

Insp. Thot retired in 1971.

He was a member of the Associated Public Safety Communications Officers and the National Law Enforcement Teletype Society.

Survivors include his wife, Marie, of the home; three daughters, Bette M. Deller, of Greenbelt, Joan Dodge, of Gambrills, Md., and Janet Thot-Thompson, of Kensington; his mother, Maria Thot, of Watertown, N.Y., and four grandchildren.