UP appoints new leader

After sorting through 64 applications from all over the United States, a University search committee has appointed Florida State University Assistant Chief of Police Thomas Longo as chief of University Police at USF.

Longo will start working at USF officially on May 22 and will oversee more than 40 police officers for the entire University community.

“It’s a very important and critical role to the functioning and the safety and security of the University,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Jennifer Capeheart-Meningall said. “It is also critical to the rest of the Tampa Bay area in that they work very closely with the other law enforcement agencies in the surrounding area to ensure the highest degree and level of safety is possible.”

Longo, who will report to Capeheart-Meningall, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Eckerd College and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Longo also received a jurist doctorate from Regent and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute.

“We actually had – in my opinion – two pretty powerful finalists,” Capeheart-Meningall said. “What actually ended up getting (Longo) selected was his experience and interest in securing external fundings for police work.”

Throughout the 1980s Longo worked as a police officer in Tampa, Belleair Bluffs and Belleair Beach. He also worked as a military police sergeant for 24 years and a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration for one year.

He also taught law and criminal justice at Crown College in Everett, Wash. and Regent University.

With two years of experience at FSU, Longo said policing the USF campus would not be very different from policing the FSU campus.

“We do have our share of problems of people coming on the campus to cause criminal problems for us, trespassing-type problems, and in fact, yesterday there was an armed robbery adjacent to the campus that we assisted the city with,” Longo said.

Longo said his position as assistant chief of police at FSU included working with the department’s investigations division, crime prevention, accreditation, training and traffic safety initiatives.

Longo said he was interested in working at USF because he grew up in Pinellas County and noted UP’s reputation as a good department.

“I’m just really anxious to get down (to USF) and get to work,” Longo said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a number of years, and it’s a good opportunity, and I’m very anxious to start.”

Longo said his first priority as chief of police will be to familiarize himself with the department and surrounding community so he can ensure basic services are being provided.

“I know the basic bread and butter of a police department is providing police service to constituents, so I want to make sure we have enough officers on the road, that we’re following up cases quickly enough – and I’m sure that’s being done, but I’m not there and I haven’t seen it first-hand,” Longo said. “So I just need to get in there and get comfortable with that and know that it’s going on the way it should – and I’m sure it is.”

A welcoming reception will be held for Longo on Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Room 101 of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

Chris Gardner contributed to this article.