ATL HIGHLANDS - It all started back in 1992 when Thomas Stone applied for a position as dispatcher with the Middletown Police Department. He held that position for three years. From t
here it was police academy, police officer in Atlantic Highlands, lots of other police-related courses, promotion to detective just days before 9/11, 2001. Next it was Sergeant and back to Patrol duty for another three years, then promotion to Detective Sergeant, and finally, two years ago, Captain of the Atlantic Highlands Police Department. And last week on Friday, May 28, Capt. Thomas Stone did a formal walk-out of police headquarters to the cheers accolades and shouts of thanks, praise and admiration. That’s when he became Capt. Tom Stone retired, new civilian, Tom Stone. It’s been a wonderful 31 years and seven months, the amiable, laid back, yet very proper police officer said. Looking back, there’s no doubt 9-11 was the worst, as the new detective worked alongside his fellow law enforcement officers from this borough and so many other places to help the frightened, ash-covered and shocked people from all over the tri-state area as Sea Streak helped them escape the horrors of New York and dropped them off at the municipal yacht harbor where these officers and so many other volunteers helped them find means to get to their own homes. “We had to coordinate all of this,” he recalls, “even though even we didn’t know what was going on in the beginning. I’m just happy I work with such a great team and we could pull together and get everyone through it.” There are some sad times, Stone recalls, reluctant to talk about it until pressed. Yes, there have been times he has had to make arrests, times it has cost him a friendship. Times he has had to comfort a family after a death or serious accident, but times he was happy to be there to give the aid and solace he could offer. And there are wonderfully happy times to remember as well. There are those three deliveries of healthy little babies he was there to assist for, there were the times he could take satisfaction in how he could talk down a dangerous situation and avoid it becoming more dangerous or possibly fatal. There were the times he knew he made a difference. That’s it, Stone smiles in recall, that’s the best thing about being a police officer. “You know you’re there to help, to make a difference, but when you see it really happening, ‘holy mackerel!’ then it hits you. And you can feel good.” One of those times was with a teen, “a good kid, too,” who got in a bit of trouble…”nothing serious, just you know, kid stuff!” Tom was there to help out. That kid returned the favor another day, when Tom was at a scene helping with an injured person. The teen helped him lift the person, and Tom, nonchalantly suggested he join the first aid. He did, became a great volunteer, got on with his life, and today, ..and here Tom looks both proud and happy….”he’s the principal of a large school!” The first aid squad is another passion in this officer’s life. In fact, any volunteer agency that helps people is an important part of his life. Growing up in Leonardo, he followed his dad’s example and was on the Leonardo First Aid Squad. That was back in 1984. Over the years, he also served seven different terms as Captain of the squad. Then he was assistant EMS Chief for Middletown Township. Now he’s a life member of the squad and has been an EMT as well since 1986. At the same time, Tom served with the Navesink Fire Company and of course, captain twice, and now a life member. “My dad did it, my older brother Cal did it,” I had great examples to follow,” the officer said. Married to Alisa, a nurse also known for her generous volunteerism and expertise….they met when she was an ER nurse and he brought in accident patients… Stone has a stepson, Matt, of whom he’s very proud, and a teenage daughter Casey, on whom he unabashedly admits he dotes. “Yes, I spend a lot of time with her, yes, I love her company, and yes she’s pretty wonderful. But she knows I’m a disciplinarian as well, and I’m there with her as her father, not as a friend who lets her get away with anything.” The smiles on Casey’s face show he’s telling the truth, and she likes it that way. Looking back, besides his parents and their leadership, Tom said he had discipline, leadership skills and education honed into him at MAST, the Sandy Hook high school where all students are members of the NJROTC. As one of the first classes to attend all four years at the high school, Stone said he learned well and also developed strong friendships. Some of those friends were there Friday when he did his final walkout at headquarters. He has enjoyed the FBI courses he has taken, together with Homeland Security education, and all the courses the local department offers its officers. He loved being juvenile officer, a position he first started 20 years ago, and loved working with the pre-teens in the library programs that were offered. There’s no doubt police work has its ups and downs, with no advance warning of which would be the up or down days, and policy and departmental procedures and regulations have changed greatly in all levels of law enforcement over the years. “But you learn, you go with it, and you do your best.” What’s in the future for this very popular police captain? “I’m not looking that far ahead,” he grins, “I want to spend the summer getting my health back…..police work is not perfect for blood pressure….I want to get some stress out of my life, I want to take my daughter to Florida and spend time with my wife.” I’ll revisit my future in the fall and look at some of the offers I’ve had for future employment.” But for this time, at least this month, Captain Stone can bask in the accolades showered on him by the many local residents who knew him as a respected officer, a good friend, and an honest and fair judge of everyone.