Police Chief Dino Sgambellone in his office Monday at the LAPD. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post
Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone marked 30-years of service in law enforcement March 17. He told the Los Alamos Daily Post that he is grateful for having had the opportunity to serve in this way and alongside some amazing people.
“It has always been important to me to be in a career that made a difference,” he said. “And while there have been many challenges along the way, both personally and professionally, I believe I can retire someday knowing I made a positive difference in many people’s lives and that’s a good feeling to have.”
That may be the understatement of the year if the flood of positive comments about Chief Sgambellone shared with the Post this week is any indication.
There are a number of ways said to determine the true measure of a man including opinions of a boss, colleagues or employees, but perhaps most importantly those of his children. It is clear from the comments Chief Sgambellone’s children shared with the Post that they think the world of their father.
Nick and Emily Sgambellone: “Despite the difficulties associated with serving in law enforcement, our father has dedicated his 30-year career in law enforcement to the service of his community. He routinely prioritizes the betterment of those around him, including his community, his family, and his friends. He serves selflessly, motivated by his desire to contribute to the greater good, and guided by his character-driven outlook on life. There is no better role model for others to emulate than our dad. He continues to devote himself to serving with honor, integrity, and courage. His family, in particular, is indebted to him for the example he has set for how to raise a family, how to care for others, and for the foundation and support he has unfailingly provided them throughout their lives. Because of him, our family understands intimately the importance of public service, selfless dedication to duty, and perseverance. It is difficult to summarize how impactful and exceptional our dad is. Dad, we love you, we are proud of you, and we are so thankful for everything you have provided for us.”
Along with his children, officials from local and state law enforcement agencies, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos County shared their esteem for Chief Sgambellone as he marks 30-years in law enforcement:
STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS
New Mexico State Police Chief Robert Thornton: “I’d like to congratulate Chief Sgambellone for his three decades in law enforcement. I admire Chief Sgambellone’s dedication and service to the people of Los Alamos.”
Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott A. Rago of the Albuquerque FBI Division: “The FBI is pleased to congratulate Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone for three decades of faithful law enforcement service. He has fostered an environment of partnership and cooperation with the FBI and other federal, state, and local agencies that has helped promote public safety. From his department’s involvement in large-scale, joint-agency exercises at Los Alamos National Laboratory to the seamless working relationship his bomb squad enjoys with their FBI counterparts, Chief Sgambellone has always been supportive and professional. The residents of Los Alamos as well as the entire state of New Mexico are fortunate to have such an experienced law enforcement leader like Chief Sgambellone.”
LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT SENIOR COMMAND STAFF
Deputy Chief Jason Wardlow Herrera: “Chief is a man of very few words, but great impact. He is a great mentor, leader, and friend. He has made our department and community a better place to work and live. Chief has helped me grow tremendously, his knowledge and wisdom, in the field as well as in life, have helped me slow down and look at the big picture. After 30 years of law enforcement, he is still passionate and proud to be a police officer. Not only is that rare, but it is also truly inspiring! Thank you, Chief, for your 30 years of service and many more to come.”
Emergency Management Coordinator Beverly Simpson: “I can honestly say of my 40 years in the workforce, Chief has been the best boss I’ve ever had. Chief Sgambellone is the most levelheaded, and honest person with the driest sense of humor I have ever encountered. I couldn’t be doing my job today if not for his support.”
Cmdr. Preston Ballew: I’ve worked for Chief Sgambellone since the first day he arrived. He came into this Department with an open mind concept and slowly introduced new ideas. Chief was never hasty to make decisions or implement new ideas until he was certain it had a good chance for success. With that being said, the decisions that may not have turned out like he wanted or anticipated, he would bring all of senior or command staff back to the ‘drawing board’ and brainstorm a path forward. I’m on my 23rd year in law enforcement and have worked for many administrations along the way. Chief Sgambellone has taught me so much when it comes to leadership, accountability, selfless serving and a passion to do what’s right at the end of the day. I respect Chief and am proud to have served with him since his arriving in 2013. I consider him a very valuable leader and a friend. Congratulations Chief on completing 30 years serving citizens of Mansfield, Ohio and Los Alamos. Proud of you!”
Cmdr. Oliver Morris: “Any police officer regardless of rank who can serve for three decades with their integrity intact and understand the precarious balance of serving the ideals of a community while enforcing its laws should be commended. Chief Sgambellone has done as much by leading two differing agencies. One sometimes in fiscal emergency with a diverse population, another with high service standards and an educated community. What allows him to be successful is the adherence to a code, that we as police officers are beholden to the public regardless of whether it’s Mansfield, Ohio or Los Alamos, New Mexico. I have observed him listen to an irate citizen for 45 minutes without interruption and ask the poignant question, how could we (LAPD) have addressed your problem better? Leaders listen, they don’t have to have all the right answers, they just need to know how to ask the right questions. Many will not know the personal sacrifices law enforcement officers and their families endure however, I congratulate Chief Sgambellone on his 30th year in Law Enforcement and our community is better for it.”
County Council Chair Randall Ryti: “Chief Sgambellone has been a community asset as the leader of the Los Alamos Police Department for going on eight years in Los Alamos. The Chief has been responsive to community concerns and has led a professional, nationally accredited department. It has truly been a pleasure to have worked with the Chief in the two years that I have been on Council. I along with the rest of the Council congratulate Chief Sgambellone for his overall 30 years of public service.”
County Manager Harry Burgess: “Thirty years in any field is quite an accomplishment! Dino should be proud of the fact that not only has he realized this milestone, but also that he has successfully led two separate law enforcement agencies as part of his record. Los Alamos has been fortunate to have Dino as our police chief for the past seven plus years, and I want to congratulate him on this achievement.”
Fire Chief Troy Hughes: “Congratulations Dino! I very much appreciate working with you to keep the citizens of Los Alamos County safe. Looking forward to many more years of being your colleague.”
LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY OFFICIALS
Deputy Laboratory Director for Operations Kelly Beierschmitt: “Los Alamos National Laboratory couldn’t ask for a better partner and protector than Chief Sgambellone. The Laboratory is grateful for his years of service, his collaboration, and his dedication to protecting and serving our community.”
Centerra-Los Alamos General Manager Lennie Upshaw: “When I moved to Los Alamos a little over 5 years ago and began working with the LANL Pro Force, I had the chance to meet Chief Sgambellone as we coordinated actions between Protective Force and the LAPD leadership. He was very welcoming and great to work with. I can see how he’s been successful and had such a long rewarding career. I had no idea he was celebrating 30 years of service, but I congratulate him and wish him all the best for more years of great service to the public!”
LOCAL EDUCATION OFFICIALS
UNM-LA Chancellor Cindy Rooney: “Congratulations Chief Sgambellone on your 30-year career in law enforcement. Thank you for your service and your commitment to our community. You, and others in the Los Alamos Police Department, are greatly appreciated!”
LAPS Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus: “Chief Sgambellone has been an invaluable partner with the Los Alamos Public Schools. He brought the idea of Kindergarten Safety Town to Los Alamos, which has been a tremendously successful program for children coming into our schools. In addition, the Chief has supported our schools by expanding the number of Resource Officers (SROs) in our schools. Because of the Chief’s leadership, LAPS students and staff trust, respect and appreciate our SROs. LAPS schools are safer because of the Chief! On behalf of everyone in the Los Alamos Public Schools, congratulations and thank you Chief Sgambellone.”
The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved the appointment of Sgambellone as the new police chief in the fall of 2013. He replaced Chief Wayne Torpy who had retired a few months earlier. He commented during his hiring process, “I promote an internal culture of professional, safe, efficient, and character driven policing by clearly communicating with subordinates to set expectations, while collaborating with the management team.”
Why did Chief Sgambellone become a cop?
“I needed a job,” he said. “My father was a firefighter and told me the police and fire departments were offering civil service tests. I took both and the police hired me first.”
What changes has Chief Sgambellone seen in policing in the last 30 years?
“There are several. I think law enforcement is better equipped to serve our communities through enhanced training, technology and equipment, evidenced based practices, policy development and professional standards, and social awareness,” he said. “Internally, I think we do a better job at recognizing and responding to the physical and mental challenges that are inherent in public safety work. However, there continues to be an alarming amount of Officer suicides at the National level. Even though the culture within Law Enforcement has improved with respect to this issue, i.e., better awareness training and mental health services, we still have work to do. Lastly, the community expectations on the role of law enforcement continue to evolve, and for the most part I think we have been fairly flexible in meeting those challenges.”
“I believe strongly that some of the greatest achievements will never be known because they were prevented,” he said. “In other words, when an officer stops someone driving under the influence, talks with a struggling teen, or calms a domestic situation, would something tragic have happened if the officer wasn’t involved? I think in many cases the answer is yes, and these outcomes that were prevented are things we generally never know about.”
Chief Sgambellone came to Los Alamos from Ohio where he worked for the Mansfield Police Department for 22 years, the last three as chief of police. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Safety and Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.