With Mike Romano retiring, longtime sergeant Gerald Conoboy becomes director of Police and Risk Management.
The position comes with non-police duties related to claims and interacting with attorneys and other railroads.
“It’s a much broader role,” he said.
Conoboy asserted that enhancing Belt safety will always be a guiding principle.
“We will do everything we can to make this an even safer railroad,” he said. “Safety has been a passion of mine and will continue to be.”
Conoboy noted that Romano has been a friend for 35 years, a mentor and a partner for the past six years at the Belt; his retirement was emotional. However, he’s excited to take on a new assignment and lead his fellow officers, which has been one of his goals.
“It’s an opportunity to guide them and ensure we’re all on the same page,” he said. “Under Mike, we were a family and I want to keep it that way.”
Conoboy said he will bring his skills developed patrolling the streets and the firsthand knowledge of safety issues that he’s acquired to the new job. He intends to maintain Romano’s community policing philosophy and looks for more engagement with areas surrounding the facility. In the past, officers visited homes on 59th Street and spoke with residents encouraging them to contact Belt police about any potential railroad-related concerns, including trespassing. He considers the Belt itself a community and a necessary area of focus.
“With almost 450 employees, we are bigger than some towns, so it’s vital that we continue to forge bonds,” he said.
Conoboy will be proactive in engaging employees and removing any perceived barriers between police and those they protect. He is encouraging officers to interact with employees more. The hope is that it will enhance communication and foment the sharing of ideas.
“We want people to open up to officers and share safety information,” he said. “The more information we have the better. There are a lot of good ideas out there, and we need them to get better. I want this to continue to be a safe place. One of my missions is to do what I can to ensure the people who work here can enjoy their retirement.”
That is exactly what Romano is presently doing by enjoying days fishing and golfing. Conoboy credits Romano with supporting his initiatives and continuing to support him as he transitions to his new role.