The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campus is one of the safest places in the city to live, work, learn, and visit. This is due in large part to the officers and employees of UMB Police and Public Safety, led by Thomas Leone, MSL, and his community-oriented police strategy that is praised nationwide.
Leone was named chief of police in fall 2021 after serving as interim chief for more than a year, then was promoted to assistant vice president for public safety and chief of police in January 2023.
“Tom has pioneered new initiatives. He has increased the department’s robust training program; championed diversity, equity, and inclusion; and used data-driven strategies to keep crime low at UMB,” Dawn M. Rhodes, DBA, chief business and finance officer and senior vice president, said when Leone was promoted in January. “Tom embodies the core values set of Respect and Integrity and consistently works to change the UMB Police Department for the better.”
When he isn’t out working in the UMB community, you can find Leone at his desk, where he displays several items of meaning to him.
The first are family photos, including some from when he was sworn in as UMB police chief.
“My family is a reason why I do all of this,” he says of his wife of 30 years, Kelli, and their children, Tyler, Brent and Alli, and 8-year-old grandson Adam.
Behind his desk is a cabinet where he proudly displays a remnant of his childhood growing up in Western Pennsylvania: a Pittsburgh Steelers gnome. The Steelers, of course, are division archrivals of the Baltimore Ravens.
“I was in Pennsylvania until 1993 when I moved to Maryland, and I couldn’t disconnect from the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you’re from Western Pennsylvania, there’s no other team,” he said. “When I moved to Maryland, it was a hard transition to be a Ravens fan or to be a Washington Commanders fan, so I stuck true to my roots.”
He and his colleagues have fun when the Ravens and Steelers play.
“We have some interesting bets around the office,” Leone said. “When the Steelers win, you might see some of our team wearing Steelers gear out along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard waving to people. And of course, whenever the Ravens win, you’ll see me in the purple waving to the folks as well.”
He said of his hometown, “I’m through and through Pittsburgh. That’s where I grew up. That’s where my roots are. I still have family there.”
He also values the personal and team awards that he displays. They include UMB Police and Public Safety’s 2021 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)/Walmart Leadership in Community Policing Award and Leone’s 2023 Innovations in Community Policing Award from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
“When I was younger, I didn’t really see the value of the awards, but they’re benchmarks toward your goal,” Leone said. “Our first award was Leadership in Community Policing through the IACP. And that was a first milestone for us: a little police department being recognized on an international stage. It was wonderful for the world to see that being a part of the communities we serve is the future of policing.
“It makes you feel good personally, but they represent the organization, the agency, and our team. And it’s kudos to everybody that helped us bring it all together.”