Officer Tony Leone returned to WTHS as an SRO, having held the position in the 2009–10 school year previously.
Washington Township High School hired a second student resource officer Tony Leone. He returned to the position having held it previously in the 2009–10 school year.
“This is familiar territory for me. I graduated from here, I worked here before, so I feel comfortable being here,” Leone said.
Mayor Joanne Gattinelli and Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik formed an agreement with school district officials, allowing a second SRO at the high school for the first time in seven years.
“It’s a good feeling,” Gurcsik said. “The mayor and I want the residents to know that we’ll do everything in our power to work with Mr. (Superintendent Joseph) Bollendorf and the education members to keep our schools as safe as possible.”
The township and school district share the expense for first SRO Tom DiTullio, but the municipality will be taking care of the full cost for Leone’s position.
“I felt it was money well spent; we needed to do whatever we could in order to help this happen,” Gattinelli said. “There was definitely a need for a second officer, especially with the large student body that we have. I don’t think just one was going to be able cover the ground that we needed to cover. We wanted to put somebody in place so that the kids would see the presence of another officer; it’s uplifting for them.”
Leone started the position Feb. 1, and said he spent the majority of his first few days back being welcomed by everyone within the school. He said the response has been overwhelming, and people seem to be happy with the returned position.
“It’s a great example of how the town and community came together and did what’s right for the staff and students. The community should feel good that the government from both the district and the township came together and made this happen really quickly,” Leone said.
“To have Officer Leone come back and put two SROs back in this building is a tremendous asset, not only to the school but the community as well,” Bollendorf said. “Officer Leone and Officer DiTullio are a part of our school community. They know the kids, and they make it their business to get to know the kids. I couldn’t be happier.”
Leone has two children attending Washington Township — Brendan, a freshman, and Rebecca, a junior. Prior to the SRO position, Leone was working as a patrolman for the Washington Township Police Department.