Lorenz Reflects on a Career Well Spent


How to sum up a life of service in a few words is a most difficult task … especially when that life has taken so many paths and has affected so many people.

The City of Glendale stated in a release late last week that Tom Lorenz would be retiring. In fact, this is his last official week of work. Lorenz’s name may sound familiar because, for the last several years, it has been followed by either “Spokesman for Glendale Police Dept.” or “Spokesman for the City of Glendale.”

Lorenz began his career in Azusa in 1982, but the thought of becoming a police officer was on his mind long before that.

“I was hired as a police cadet at age 18, three months after graduating high school,” Lorenz said.

He had known he wanted to be a police officer because of a desire to protect and serve, literally.

“My dad died when I was 12 and my mom didn’t speak English,” Lorenz said.

His mother was Japanese; his father met her while he was in the military. Lorenz spent a lot of his youth protecting his mother from those who would take advantage of her because she couldn’t speak English.

“Protecting others was built into me at a young age,” he said.

So he became a police officer, in a way as an extension of life lessons learned of protecting his family. He decided to become a police officer in Glendale in 1984 because it had a progressive police department.

“They had computers in their [patrol] cars in 1982,” Lorenz said.

Although a common thing now, having computers in patrol units was something new in the 1980s.

He was 20 when he began as a GPD officer and joked that he would respond to a call of a bar fight at then-Lady Jane’s, later The Mix on Honolulu Avenue, even though he was not yet old enough to have drink at a bar.

Lorenz has worked just about every aspect of policing; he began on patrol, then moved to the DUI team, was a Vice Narcotics detective, U.S. DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) task force officer and on LA IMPACT (Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Team). In 1996, he was promoted to police sergeant and the next year worked as the supervisor for COPPS. That same year he joined SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics). In 2001, he was a supervisor for the Assaults Bureau; in 2002, a supervisor for Vice Narcotics and in 2004 began working as the adjutant for the chief of police. Then in 2010, he was named the GPD public information officer.

Throughout his career he has been a speaker at several educational drug meetings, including with the Crescenta Valley Alliance. His knowledge of drug trends and issues has been invaluable not only for the CV community but throughout the country.

He has seen drug trends change while some stay the same. He has watched how technology has changed the way kids, and adults, approach drug use. There is a lot of information online to help educate kids on the true consequences of drug abuse, and the reach of technology brings drugs to a larger audience.

“It doesn’t help when there is a general acceptance among teenagers that it’s okay [to use drugs],” he said.

He warned of the excuse by some parents who say, “I used drugs and are just fine” or provide “social hosting” with the philosophy of “I would rather have my child drink or do drugs here.”

“The drugs are far more stronger now [than they were],” Lorenz said. He is also concerned watching the opioid epidemic grow.

For a while Lorenz did double duty as PIO for the GPD, which would crossover to the position of City spokesman.

It was impossible for Lorenz to choose one memory of his long career.

“There are so many memories,” he said. “I was here during the 1994 Earthquake, the [1990] College Hills fire, the [2005]] Metrolink accident, [the 2009 Station Fire] and following floods.”

And he added the crowd craziness of the Michael Jackson funeral in 2009.

One of his most vivid memories was the capture of the 210 serial rapist.

It was in 2001 when a series of rapes stretched alone the Foothill [210] Freeway. Lorenz was the supervisor of the Assaults Bureau at the time. The Altadena man who was eventually convicted of assaulting four women was arrested in front of a La Crescenta home. Lorenz was the supervisor of the officers Art Frank and Tahnee Lightfoot who captured the man.

Lorenz has a lived a life that has gone from being shot at with an AK-47 to working with the city on Measure S. He has definitely earned his retirement, and plans to take it a bit slower, though still be involved with some organizations that have already reached out to him.

When looking back, he gives credit to those around him who helped him throughout the years.

“My career is only as good as the people I worked with,” he said.