East Hempfield Township Police Sergeant Anthony Lombardo

East Hempfield Township Police Sergeant Tony Lombardo has been in law enforcement going on 25 years. His reason for becoming a police officer typically raises some eyebrows.

“I did it on a dare,” Lombardo, an Elizabethtown native, said. “I was in college for civil engineering, which is why I love doing crash reconstruction. But I took a break from college and was working at Lancaster Countywide Communications as a police dispatcher to make some money and go back to school.”

Lombardo never went back for engineering. He took a ride along with the late and former East Hempfield Township Police Sergeant Harold Gainer, which turned into a great friendship starting in 1997. A little over a year later, Gainer called Lombardo while he was working at the dispatch center one night.

“He asked me what I was doing in the morning and I said, ‘Nothing, do you want to get breakfast?,’” Lombardo said. “[Gainer] said no, but that he wanted me to come to the station and get an application.”

Lombardo thought it was an application for a front desk dispatcher with the station. It was to become a police officer.

“I thought, ‘Why would I want to do that?’” Lombardo said. “I was so close to getting my engineering degree. [Gainer] said, ‘You make the job what you want and you seem to have the enthusiasm. I think you’ll do well and you’ll like it. I dare you. Come get an application.’ Early October of 1998, I came in and got an application and the rest is history.”

Lombardo fully embraced his new career path and, after the first year learning the job, went back to school and received his degree in Business Administration and Management from Albright College.

He developed an interest in traffic enforcement and now serves as the team leader on a county crash investigation team and the assistant coordinator for the Lancaster County Major Crash Investigation Unit.

“I learned early on that traffic enforcement was my niche,” Lombardo said. “The fact that I was heading for a traffic engineering degree. The fact that my specialty is crash reconstruction. I do a lot of traffic safety stuff on the side as some of my projects.”

Lombardo spent over 15 years as a Patrolman before becoming a Patrol Sergeant in 2014. He’s been an Adjunct Police Instructor at Harrisburg Area Community College since 2004. In 2021, Lombardo transitioned into a newly created position: Administrative Sergeant.

“The primary focus was to get us accredited through the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC),” Lombardo said. “I became a project manager, so I help with training and pretty much anything anybody throws at me.”

East Hempfield Township Police Department attained its PLEAC accreditation, one of the handful of police departments to earn that distinction in the county, in October of 2021. Lombardo focuses on continuing compliance with the accreditation, which consists of 125 standards. Those standards vary from patrol operations to evidence to documenting reports. Each standard has hundreds of bullet points that the department needs to show it is meeting in its daily operations.

“It’s a very involved process to get going,” Lombardo said. “Our agency was set up pretty well with our policies and it was just a matter of cleaning up a few things. A lot of that came through training.”

Lombardo utilizes his time biking in Lancaster’s parks to wind down after a long day at work. He also runs a men’s ice hockey league and enjoys spending time at the beach in Avalon, New Jersey, two additional ways he takes care of his mental health.

“We’re starting to see the effects of it more and more,” Lombardo said of mental health wellbeing. “We have groups out there. We have training agencies. We have municipality and department heads that are saying we need to be better at helping you find a way to be fit, physically and mentally, not just here at work but outside of work. You know, and that's something that I try to profess when I teach is ‘Don't burn yourself out’, find out what's outside of work.”

Lombardo was hired with the East Hempfield Township Police Department over 24 years ago and is nearing the required age and years of service to retire. His work throughout an accomplished career has been beneficial to the Lancaster community.

“My overall goal was to be proactive, fair, firm and consistent with the work I do,” Lombardo said. “The role that I had was to make sure people who live, travel, and work in East Hempfield Township do so safely and lawfully. It's not personal. There are laws. My job is tasked to make sure those laws are obeyed. I hate to cause hardship to people. But to see that the work that I did, whether it's improving highway safety or improving a situation with a person or a family, has been pretty much the best blessing. I can say that I've done my job as well as I could.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sean McBryan, semcbryan@co.lancaster.pa.us; Twitter: @SeanMcBryanLanc.