Thomas A. Lanker, chief of police of the City of Lima, is an old and experienced police officer in Ohio, and for a number of years was with the department of Dayton, where he rose from the ranks to second in command of the entire police force.
Chief lanker was born June 13, 1878, in Wyandot County, Ohio, next to the youngest of nine children, all living. His father, Rev. M.B. Lanker, who died in 1906, was a minister of the United Brethren Church, and well known in his section of Ohio. Thomas A. Lanker attended grammar schools in Auglaize County, and as a youth learned the butcher's trade. About the time he was twenty years of age he enlisted in the Regular Army, in Company L of the Fourteenth United States Infantry, and had a service record of three years and three months. He was in the Spanish American war, also in the Philippines, and went with the American forces to China during the Boxer rebellion. He participated in the battle of Peking, the fighting leading up to the gages of the Celestial City. He was severely wounded in that engagement. After his wound he was kept in a hospital in China from June to August, was then returned to the hospital relief ship for thirty days, and then transferred to the general hospital at the Presido at San Francisco. After four months there he was granted his honorable discharge, On December 1, 1900.
Soon after leaving the army he returned to Ohio, spent a year at home, and on October 6, 1901, married Miss Bessie C. Nuhfer, daughter of Jacob Nuhfer, of Grand Rapids, Ohio. Mr. Lanker and wife had three sons and three daughters, the oldest son being now a clerk in the locomotive works at Lima, while a daughter is a proofreader in the office of the Lima News. The other children are students in high school.
After his marriage Mr. Lanker spent two years in the grocery and meat business, and then, having passed a successful examination under civil service rules, was appointed a member of the Dayton Fire Department. He was in the service two years, and having in the meantime taken the examination for the police force he resigned from the fire department and was appointed a patrolman in Dayton. He was with the Dayton Police Department for ten years, was promoted to sergeant, then to lieutenant, and was the second highest officer on the force. While in Dayton he took a course in the new York Police School, and is thoroughly acquainted with metropolitan methods of police management. Soon after his return to Dayton he started a training school, and trained three classes of twenty-four men for police work. He also furnished the plant police protection for the airplane manufacturing interests at Dayton, and had a large amount of extraordinary responsibilities during the World war.
After leaving the police department at Dayton Mr. Lanker was financially interested in and on duty at the Overland automobile plant for two years, these duties taking him to Toledo. At the beginning of 1923 he was called from Toledo to become chief of the police department of the City of Lima, beginning his duties on April 1. His Appointment was unprecedented in the municipal history of Lima since it was the first time that the city had gone outside in selection of a chief of police. However, only a short time before Lima had gone under a commission form of government, and the city manager had also been brought from the outside. Chief Lanker has accomplished almost a revolution in the Lima Police Department, especially through his effective discipline and leadership in doing away with the old controversies. Since taking charge he has kept the local police in training and working for greater efficiency all the time. He has also installed a comprehensive and practical criminal record under the Bertillon Fingerprint System, and has an organized traffic squad and has divorced the police telephone from the regular telephone system of the city, installing a modern police signal system.
History of Ohio, The American Historical Society, Inc., 1925, Volume V