The Honorable John H. Fishel shakes his son Brett’s hand after administering the oath of office during a Southern Police Commission meeting Wednesday
The Honorable John H. Fishel shakes his son Brett's hand after administering the oath of office during a Southern Police Commission meeting Wednesday March 5, 2014. Officer Fishel is a third generation law enforcement officer, following in the steps of his grandfather, Robert Fishel who was with Red Lion Police Department, and father John who was with York Area Regional before becoming a judge. John A. Pavoncello -

Like his father before him, John H. Fishel tried to talk his son out of becoming a police officer.

Even Fishel's father, Bob Fishel, a retired police officer himself, sat down to chat with his grandson, Brett Fishel, about what it's like to be a cop.

But the talks were futile and Brett Fishel was formally sworn in as a Southern Regional Police officer Wednesday, making him the third generation to take up the family trade.

"I know we joke about steering people away from it, (but) it is a good job," said John H. Fishel, who retired from York Area Regional Police to become a district judge. "It's an honor to have your kid follow in your footsteps. I couldn't be more proud that he's doing it."

Surprise: When Brett Fishel walked to the front of the chambers where the South Regional Police Commission meets, he assumed District Judge Jeff Joy was going to give him the oath. Joy normally swears in the department's new officers.

But Joy halted the swearing in before it started and handed over a black robe to John H. Fishel to do the honors. Call it an early birthday present for Brett Fishel, who turned 23 on Thursday.

"I had no idea," Brett Fishel said. "It was something not many people can say happened to them."

A 2009 graduate of Red Lion Area Senior High School, Brett Fishel attended Shippensburg University and earned a degree in criminal justice in 2013. He also graduated from the Harrisburg Area Community College police academy in November.

In his blood: Brett Fishel said he's wanted to be a police officer for as long as he can remember.

He recalled how he and his friends would check out his grandfather's patrol car, turning on the lights, when he was boy.

"Ever since that, I wanted to do it," Brett Fishel said.

The Fishel family involvement in the police service can be traced back to 1967 when Bob Fishel joined the now defunct Red Lion Police Department. He retired as a sergeant in 1997.

That's the same rank John H. Fishel held when he retired in 2009 after 22 years on the job — first with Windsor Township, then with York Area Regional Police Department.

Though police work can mean long hours and seeing the worst of people at times, Bob and John H. Fishel said it was a sense of service to the community and a will to help that kept them going throughout the years. That's the same reason Brett Fishel opted to don a badge.

"I don't think I would have changed or done anything different," John H. Fishel said, his father nodding in agreement.

— Reach Greg Gross at