After 29 years of service, Director of Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) Tom Conlon has announced his retirement. Conlon’s last day will be June 30, 2018.
According to his colleagues, Conlon has continuously helped advance the school’s public safety program since the beginning of his career and strengthened the school’s relationship to the other safety departments in the town of Andover.
“I think one of the biggest impacts was breaking down the barriers between the school and the Andover public safety. At one time it was like we didn’t want to get [the town of Andover] involved, but we worked hard in establishing a good relationship with the town. It’s great because now we have a phone call, and we get either the police chief or the fire chief,” said Conlon.
“Director Conlon is someone who cares about his staff and the [Andover] community. Director Conlon has strong people skills and is committed to the well-being of the officers of Public Safety. He supports me in furthering my education, which allows to me teach and share with the [Andover] community,” wrote Wendy Cogswell, Public Safety Officer, in an email to The Phillipian.
According to George Robertson, Senior Officer of Public Safety, Conlon prioritizes helping communities. Roberton said that Conlon served in the Boy Scout council his whole life until two years ago.
“He’s done a lot of volunteer work… [He’s] just an all-around good guy. He speaks with authority, but he’s not too stern, and he’s helpful and always there to help you when you need it,” said Robertson.
Conlon, who grew up in South Lawrence, has always lived around the Andover area. As child, he and his friends would ride their bikes up the hill to play on the athletic fields.
“We would play in the fields and we would get chased off by [Andover campus police]. And here I am as the Director of Public Safety,” said Conlon.
Before arriving at Andover, Conlon worked as a manufacturer for 17 years before supervising a company. According to Conlon, a friend referred him to a job in the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) after his former employer was bought out.
After joining Andover as an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist in OPP, Conlon moved into Public Safety. Conlon said that what he once thought of as a temporary position became his entire career path.
During his time at Andover, Conlon has continued the work of officers before him, which includes dorm checks, fire safety checks, and regulation of all the alarm systems. However, according to Robertson, Conlon also implemented several improvements to campus safety, such as the card access system.
Additionally, Conlon has improved the safety of students by employing a larger staff, more cameras around campus, and dispatch monitors. He also implemented an app that improved the communication system between PAPS and students, allowing messages to be sent to the entire school a notification if there is an emergency.
“These are all initiatives that we’ve set up through the years so I’d like to see these continued and maybe even expanded upon. When I first took over public safety it was a lot of team building and the public safety team really became more of a vibrant part of the community where we weren’t before,” said Conlon.
Student safety is the major priority of Conlon, but he enjoys also helping in any way to get students through their Andover years. PAPS’ preparation for commencement plays a small, yet important part in the students of Andover’s journey.
The search process for Conlon’s replacement is still underway. According to Robertson, the school will most likely conduct a world-wide search, with a few current members of Public Safely applying for the position.
To the future Director of Public Safety, Conlon advises them to be themselves, understanding, and patient.