Wilton Chief of Police Michael Lombardo will be soon be heading up his hometown police department, when Trumbull Police Chief Thomas Kiely retires after more than 40 years with the town.

Lombardo was named the next Trumbull Chief of Police Wednesday, in front of a packed council chambers in town hall. The announcement was made by First Selectman Timothy Herbst and the Police Commission. Lombardo starts his new position on Jan. 1.

Lombardo has lived in Trumbull for 23 years and his kids went through the Trumbull school system.

“I am honored to take over Chief Kiely’s post — those are big shoes to fill,” Lombardo said. “I know for a fact this is an excellent police agency.”

Kiely also lauded the Police Commissions’ choice and said he has had a long friendship with Lombardo.

“I can say from the bottom of my heart that he is a good man,” Kiely said to members of his department in the crowd. “He realizes the value you have and you are in good hands. This is a job like no other — we tell you to put on a gun and put on a bullet proof vest — it really is unique and he understands that.

“To the community, he is a guy you want as your neighbor,” Kiely said.

Lombardo has been with the Wilton Police Department for 33 years, serving as chief the last five years, overseeing 45 members. As Trumbull’s chief, he will be in charge of 78 members.

Police Commission Chair Jack Testani said the decision to hire Lombardo was unanimous.

“As we have learned in recent years the role of our local police departments has become more and more important,” Testani said. “Protecting our community, protecting our schools and protecting our quality of life have never been more important.”

First Selectman Herbst said that since school security is such a priority, Lombardo has met with Superintendent Gary Cialfi, who also gave Lombardo positive reviews.

Herbst noted some of Lombardo’s accomplishments, including integrating more technology at the Wilton Police department, starting an Officer of Year program and starting a community police academy to educate the public.

Herbst also said that Lombardo has shown fair and equal treatment to all his employees in Wilton and taken disciplinary action, when needed, to protect the integrity of the department.

“He is a Trumbull resident, with skin in the game, who wants the best for his hometown,” Herbst said.

Lombardo said every community has its challenges and he looks forward to meeting with members of his department and the community to asses the needs and work to build on what he called an already outstanding reputation of the Trumbull department.

The announcement Wednesday also happened to fall on Lombardo’s 54th birthday. Herbst said they would be celebrating with cake after the press conference.