Philip Lydon Jr.
Detective, Division of Public Safety
Officer, Division of Public Safety
46-year-old detective worked his way up, starting as a mail carrier
for the Wharton school. His 24-year-old discovered public safety
after a brief stint as a school teacher.
Photo by Daniel R. Burke
It must be in the blood.
Detective Philip Lydon Sr., and his son, Officer Philip Lydon Jr., are Penn heroes, keeping streets and homes safe and even giving the breath of life. The two recently received merit commendations, which recognize work above and beyond the call of duty, from Penns Division of Public Safety.
While it wasnt the first award Lydon Sr. has seen in his long career, it was a special first for his son. Lydon Jr. said he got one of those rare chances to help save a life, performing CPR on a civilian who had sustained multiple chest injuries. He had taken a million and one falls on his chest, said Lydon Jr. And he wasnt even assigned to the call; he just happened to drive by at that crucial moment.
Not to be outdone, Lydon Sr. quickly put two and two together and helped put a robber on the loose behind bars, all within a matter of days.
We spoke with the duo about the adrenaline and anxiety involved in the world of public safety.
Q.How did you feel about your son going into public safety?
A. Sr. Me, I thought it was great. But now my wife, it [is] bad enough that when I leave for work she has to worry about me coming home. And with him wanting to get into it, it turned into the same thing [so that] now, hey, [shes] gotta worry about both.
Q.So how do you stop the people you love from worrying?
A. Sr. Some parts of the job I dont tell her [his wife]. I dont tell anything that involves him [Lydon Jr.] because I dont feel its my place. I always leave it up to him to tell his mother.
With my situation, its different. Im off the street. The probability of me getting hurt here is lot less. Sometimes I tell her certain things I do, sometimes I dont, depending on how I see her days going. Ive been with her 25 years, so I know when to take a backseat.
Jr. Im pretty much the same way. The only difference is with my fiancée, I really tell her everything, and if she doesnt want to hear it, I let her tell me, OK, thats it. I draw the line at that.
With my mother, Ill pretty much tell her everything thats happened thats major because Id rather her hear it coming from me. Sometimes with mothers shes gotta see it for herself
Sr. Shes gotta hear it from her baby boy.
Jr. And thats why I go and tell her.
Sr. Dont get me wrong, the major stuff, like when Ive been hurt on the job, Ive told her right away. There have been a couple of times when Ive even come home because Ive been hurt. If I leave early, Ill call her and tell her Im coming home and Im all right because if I come home before my normal time they start panicking. But I give her the heads up. Like I said, its been years. Hes just feeling his way with his fiancée on what she might want to hear.
Q.Do you interact with each other on a daily basis?
A. Jr. Fortunately, weve never had to deal with that. You get upset when someone is doing something to your partner, but if its your father or sonwell, weve never had to deal with that. We got lucky in that aspect. I dont think I would overreact, but you dont want to be put into a situation where somebody could be hitting your dad. When its your blood, its different.
Sr. I agree with him there. [But] Im on a different end of it. In here we also listen to radio calls and you dont react, but then again when you turn around and you hearfor instance, I heard Phil make astop, to stop a guy for an investigation regarding a burglary and then all of a sudden I heard foot pursuit. My first reaction [was] to [get] up and go after him, but I had to have confidence in the guys who were out there with him to make him come back safely.
Its automatic when youre on the street and you hear any officer get into a pursuit. The adrenaline starts pumping because you know youre going to have to react, but now I [have] a different point of view. Im sitting here at my desk, hearing him do a stop, which is fine because Ive heard him do many stops, but then I hear the voice go up a little higher in tones. You dont know what happened.
Q.Is he your only son? Your only kid?
A. Sr. Hes my only son. I have two twin girls, 22. One of them is actually a security officer working for SpectaGuard and there are two others that are adopted, one is 19 and the other is 18, and then theres two grandchildren, 3 and 1 1/2. Before I get into any trouble, my wife works here also. Shes a teacher at the Childrens Center, the daycare. And like he says, his fiancée is a teacher.
Originally published on February 7, 2002