Lt. Brian Tienter is a true “blue” blood. Born at the 5th Army Hospital in Stuttgart, Germany, to a military police officer who later became a Pennsylvania State Trooper, he knew he was destined to be a soldier or a policeman.
“Fortunately, circumstances worked out that I was able to do both,” he said.
Tienter served approximately six years of active duty in the U.S. Army and another two in the Army National Guard. During that time, he worked in intelligence, as a medic and as a paratrooper, deploying several times to both Central and South America. In 1997, he joined the Susquehanna Township Police Department in Dauphin County, Pa., as a patrol officer, answering calls for service and patrolling to prevent crime. He was promoted to the rank of corporal and assisted a platoon sergeant in his leadership duties before earning the rank of sergeant himself.
“I also graduated from Penn State in 1999 with a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in criminal justice and from the American Military University in 2008 with an MA (Master of Arts) in disaster and emergency management,” he said.
A community servant
From the very beginning of his law enforcement career, Tienter proved to be a natural leader. He has instructed others in the use of firearms and chemical munitions, as well as less lethal, use-of-force and situational training methodologies. He was assigned as a traffic safety and community technical services officer, performing accident investigation, traffic enforcement, community policing duties and bicycle patrol.
“I have also had the honor of serving on the Dauphin County Crisis Response Team, responding to critical incidents for 23 years,” he said. “From 2018 to 2022, I supervised the Community Technical Services Unit as a sergeant, and in March 2022, I was promoted to lieutenant — and currently serve in that capacity.”
Tienter said the most exciting thing about being part of the STPD is the eclectic nature of his work. There is no such thing as a routine day. While some calls may be similar in nature, they are also unique. However, the challenge and satisfaction of helping people through issues such as severe weather events, visiting dignitaries, critical incidents, transportation accidents and the myriad of other things that can happen is what attracts so many people to the law enforcement calling and one incentive for keeping those community servants in the department.
“The biggest challenge to the job is remaining relevant and being adaptable to what the community expects and needs from its police officers as well as what the officers I work with expect and need from me,” he said. “A prime example of this is remaining well-versed in technology, changes in the law and new concepts in law enforcement.”
Lead by example
Tienter understands the need for continued education, and his supervisors see his leadership qualities as something that should be honed and developed. Last year, STPD public safety director Chief Robert Martin suggested Tienter take part in the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Development Institute, whose mission is to prepare and empower individuals committed to exercising creative leadership to improve conditions in the Greater Harrisburg area. Martin attended a previous cohort and thought Tienter would be a good candidate for the program.
“He (Martin) is well-acquainted with the leadership staff at the program,” Tienter said. “He’s a huge supporter of the program and he nominated me.”
From February to July, Tienter built his professional leadership skills by studying Dr. King’s “Principles of Nonviolence,” including an in-depth analysis of his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” team building, law and justice, community mobilization, decision making and problem-solving, implicit bias recognition, conflict resolution and much more. Tienter said some topics covered in the program, such as conflict resolution, included role-playing activities while others, such as community mobilization, asked participants to work in small groups to choose a topic to present and garner support for their initiative.
“The class also involved many guest panels and speakers who were experts in their fields, such as the legislative process,” he said.
Not everyone who took part in Tienter’s cohort were law enforcement officers, but they represented a wide swath of the community, including human resource professionals, digital marketing specialists, retirees, social media coordinators, military personnel and more. Despite the diverse participants in various fields, Tienter said all of the training topics covered in the program were essential skills for his work in law enforcement and crucial to building relationships within the community. Not only did they help to further the community policing mission, but they also went a long way to help establish legitimacy and transparency while building trust between the police and the public. He also said the topics were crucial for his own self-development and dealing with others in the agency.
“It allowed me to further develop my team building and communication skills while giving me the opportunity to work closely with others outside the law enforcement arena,” he said.
When he isn’t on the job or adding to his already impressive skill set, Tienter enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading and visiting his grown children with his girlfriend, and although he has recently retired, Tienter continues to work for the department as the manager of administrative operations. “No matter what, I hope to continue to instruct others and perhaps work with the department in some other capacity,” he said.