Meet Our Alumni: Thomas Leone '21 Master of Science in Law, Homeland Security and Crisis Management

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Since his early days as a Frederick County patrol officer in the 1990s, Thomas Leone (MSL ’21) has been dedicated to helping people “feel safe in their space.” Now, he brings his experience and knowledge gained in Maryland Carey Law’s Master of Science in Law (MSL) in Homeland Security and Crisis Management to the job of University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) police chief and, as of January 1, vice president of public safety.

Before joining the UMB police department as a lieutenant in 2016, Leone served in the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years, rising through the ranks to become director of the county’s narcotics task force from 2007 to 2016. After two years at UMB, Leone was promoted to deputy chief, then interim chief in 2020 and permanent chief in 2021. His appointment to chief came in the same year that Leone earned his master’s from the law school he was sworn to protect.

While completing his coursework in Homeland Security and Crisis Management, Leone was also leading the UMB police department through the pandemic, which made serving and protecting the university anything but business as usual. According to the chief, the specialized track provided skills and knowledge applicable to the real-life crises the department faced as the virus threatened the health and safety of the UMB community.

“Collaborating with classmates through interactive dialogues on important topics translated into helpful lessons,” said Leone. “The Homeland Security and Crisis Management Law Track courses especially prompted timely discussions leading to solutions in light of the global pandemic in areas from cybersecurity to health law.”

Being in the MSL program also enhanced Leone’s ability to understand the UMB community. As a student, he gained the diverse perspectives of his classmates from various professional backgrounds and industries, as well as from other campus stakeholders, including his professors.

Leone has led the UMB police department to great success in his short time as chief. With an eye to community-engaged, compassionate policing, the department has increased its internal curriculum to include training in anti-bias, pro-LGBTQ+, and trauma-informed policing for officers. Leone has also spearheaded an expansion of the Community Outreach and Support Team, adding several new Police Athletic/Activities League mentors and partnering with the UMB School of Social Work. In 2021, the department was honored with the International Association of Chiefs of Police/Walmart Leadership in Community Policing Award and Leone received honorable mention in the leadership category of the UMB Presidential Core Values Awards.

The department must be a “learning organization,” said Leone, reflecting on his choice to pursue the MSL while working full-time. “We want our team to constantly strive for improvement; excellence is the endgame.”

As the first member of UMBPD to complete the MSL, Leone’s commitment to professional growth set a remarkable example for his team. Following the chief’s lead, several other members of the police department are now enrolled in the program