Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Blue in the Blood: Commissioner’s son joins Harrisburg Police Bureau.

Public safety commissioner Thomas Carter and son Carlin Carter.

Carlin Carter isn’t the only police officer for whom law enforcement is a family tradition, but his new job with the Harrisburg Police Bureau hits particularly close to home.

He’s the son of Harrisburg Police Commissioner Thomas Carter, who commands some 140 police officers as the city’s top public safety official.

Twenty-seven-year-old Carlin was sworn in to the bureau this morning along with six other new hires. They’ll complete six months of police academy training and almost a year of in-house orientation before hitting the streets as uniformed patrol officers.

A graduate of Susquehanna Township High School, Carlin Carter attended the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown before enrolling at Millersburg University and Harrisburg Area Community College.

He currently serves as a sergeant in the Pennsylvania National Guard, where he’s participated in more than 1,700 military funerals. He’ll leave active duty as an honor guardsman to enter the police academy.

He said the police commissioner was an “amazing” dad and that he’s not nervous at all to serve under his command.

“He made sure I always knew the law,” Carter said with a laugh.

Since he took the helm of the police bureau in 2014, Commissioner Carter has drawn numerous local and regional accolades for his leadership, including honors from the NAACP and Dauphin County Crime Stoppers. He’s also won the “Peacemaker in Our Midst” award from the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, and the Harrisburg Hero Award.

The commissioner has served on the Harrisburg force for his son’s whole life. He said it’s an honor to have Carlin join him, even if his decision to do so came as a surprise.

“I didn’t think he’d want to become a police officer, but the military opened him up to serving people,” Carter said. “He wanted to continue that by serving with the Harrisburg police.”

Carter said that young police officers face a slew of challenges today that are different from the ones he encountered on his first job.

Crime today seems to be more sophisticated, Carter said, with offenses like cybercrimes redefining the demands of police work.

And while “violent crime is still violent crime,” he said, it seems that perpetrators in Harrisburg are getting younger with each passing year.

“These guys are policing in a different age,” Carter said of the new recruits. “They’re dealing with today’s problems, today’s crimes, and what it means to be a police officer is changing.”

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