Skip navigation

TCC professor writes book about school safety

Antonio Passaro Jr., Ph.D., started as a TCC student and is now the department chair and professor of TCC’s Criminal Justice program. He is also a published author who recently celebrated a book release.

Passaro was a first-generation college student who started his education at TCC and credits the school as being the reason for where he is today. “I know the foundation I got at the college set me on the path for my career success,” he said. “TCC also fostered my lifelong love of learning.”

After receiving his associate degree from TCC, he followed his passion for criminal justice. He had a 16-year career in law enforcement before returning to school and eventually earning his doctorate in Higher Education Leadership with a secondary concentration in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University.

Throughout his time in law enforcement, Passaro learned that it is important to plan for every circumstance whether it be obtaining a search warrant or protecting schools from danger. This concept inspired him to write a book titled, “Investigating the Design and Implementation of Operational Safety Plans for Crisis at Higher Education Institutions.” The book focuses on the importance of having a safety plan for higher education institutions and regularly practicing what to do in case of an emergency.

Colleges have safety plans in place for a variety of circumstances, but Passaro says the plans are worthless if they are not practiced. “When the safety plan is practiced regularly, faculty, staff and students will know exactly what to do if an occasion arises,” he said. “They will be able to act immediately in an efficient manner that keeps everyone safe.”

The biggest challenge that Passaro faced when writing this book was the lack of existing research on the subject. He was able to overcome this challenge and become one of the first authors to publish a book on his topic. While being a trailblazer can be daunting, Passaro urges students aspiring to become authors to “move their fears away and be led by their dreams.”

Criminal Justice program changes coming soon

How do you influence needed change?

One person at a time.

That’s what inspired Tidewater Community College Professor Antonio Passaro, Ph.D., to suggest improvements to the Criminal Justice programs in Virginia’s Community Colleges, following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

“That incident sparked a passion in me to do something to change the curriculum. We’re training women and men for every police department in the Commonwealth and we have a civic and moral responsibility to reimagine how we train officers of the future,” Passaro said.

TCC Criminal Justice students with Professor Antonio Passaro.
Passaro with Criminal Justice students before the start of the pandemic.

As department chair of TCC’s Criminal Justice program with more than 16 years in law enforcement, Passaro was invited to participate in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Law Enforcement Review Panel that launched in June 2020.

“As we were looking at things happening around our nation, it was clear that the communities we serve had a broken relationship with law enforcement, and we could do something to change that,” he said.

Passaro’s idea included a three-prong approach that included adding two required, three-credit courses to the curriculum – one in Community Policing and the other a Multicultural class. He also suggested a universal name change to Criminal Justice for all related programs in the VCCS.

Passaro was named chair of the VCCS Law Enforcement Curriculum Committee in Jan 2021 and worked with colleagues to develop the new courses.

“Community policing is an art. The idea is to get more police officers out of their patrol cars and involved in the community. Having conversations with citizens. Showing it’s not us against them, but a united effort. Making way to better community engagement and transparency,” he said.

In addition, according to Passaro, the Multicultural class is designed to engage students in a way that sparks “compassionate curiosity about the lived experiences and perspectives of other people.”

“Every student in our programs will have increased cultural competency. We have to ensure we are doing the right thing by all people,” Passaro said. “Police need to treat every citizen with dignity and respect and citizens have to respect law enforcement officers.”

Passaro is now co-chair of the Criminal Justice Community Partnership (CJCP), launched in June 2021 by the VCCS.

The CJCP is bringing together community organizations, criminal justice training academies, law enforcement leaders, and Criminal Justice faculty to engage in meaningful conversations focused on the identification and examination of emerging trends, best practices and opportunities.

In addition, the CJCP is taking the final steps before the new courses and name change will be adopted by the VCCS. The group is collecting input from college advisory boards and committees. They are also ironing out the logistics of how the new courses will fit into certificate and degree programs.

The group hopes to have the changes in place by Fall Semester 2022.

“Moving forward we’re making sure the students who complete the Criminal Justice program have extra tools in the toolbox and are well equipped to protect and serve their communities,” Passaro said.  “I’m very proud of the work we’ve done together to impact change in virtually every city in Virginia.”

Criminal Justice professor encourages students to follow their dreams

Antonio “Tony” Passaro Jr. spent the first fifteen years of his career working as a state trooper. He was later assigned to high-tech computer crimes for the Virginia State Police and held a cross-designation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency.

Today he is the Criminal Justice program director and department lead for the Norfolk Campus.

“I enjoyed my time in law enforcement, but I like what I’m doing now because I get to encourage students,” Passaro said. “Learning is a choice and it is my goal to mold aspiring minds.”

Passaro says his passion for criminal justice and law enforcement stems from his extensive training and police background, and his education. He holds a master’s in criminal justice with an emphasis in management and planning.

To get students interested in the subjects he’s teaching, Passaro conducts mock scenarios and gets students to answer pertinent questions. “I encourage them to think critically about what we’re learning and then share their conclusions. This creates a great dialogue in the classroom and that’s what students will ultimately remember,” Passaro said.

The Criminal Justice program is offered on all four of TCC’s campuses and online. “Working with faculty on the other campuses is definitely a highlight,” he said.

To remain pertinent to the curriculum, Passaro does plenty of research. “In the classroom, we look at everything from controversial issues like the legalization of marijuana, to the ever-changing traffic laws,” he said. “I tell my students that knowledge is power and the more you know, the better prepared you will be for your future department.”

“In every class I teach, I encourage students to go beyond their comfort zones and expand their critical thinking to help them become better investigators,” Passaro said. “I want them to find work they love and not let anyone stand in their way, and believe by faith that everything will work out.”

In his free time, Passaro uses his investigative experience to act in true crime shows on the Investigative Discovery channel, making appearances in “Wicked Attraction,”  “Ice Cold Killers,” and “Last Moment of Clarity.”

Passaro is at work on a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership with an emphasis in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University. He will complete the program in December 2020.

He is also a member of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and serves with the NASA Federal Law Enforcement agency at Langley Research Center having successfully completed training at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

From here, they didn’t just get degrees. They also got married


What started as a chance meeting at a bench on the Virginia Beach Campus blossomed into a May wedding for two Tidewater Community College graduates now living happily ever after in Australia.

Logan Meredith and Brody Jose are spending their first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife five years after chatting outside the Blackwater Building prior to their shared class with Professor Christy Hewett.

“Aren’t you in my pre-calculus class?” are the first words Meredith asked somewhat awkwardly of her future hubby.

When Brody confirmed he was, Meredith recognized his Australian accent immediately. That impressed him and set off a conversation. Soon enough, Cupid struck.

“There’s not a passing day that I don’t think about that moment,” Meredith said from her new home in Wollongong, a coastal city just south of Sydney. “We both felt the same about each other every step of the way.”

The 2012 Salem High School grad decided on TCC to allow herself to complete her general education requirements while figuring out a career path. With an eye on transferring to VCU, Meredith earned her Associate of Science in Business Administration in May 2015.

“What I love about TCC is that for me it was a graceful transition in college, and I was able to take classes without having to worry about what I wanted to do in life,” said Meredith, who finished her bachelor’s in international management at VCU last May. “By the time I went to VCU, I was older and more mature and could carefully pick my concentration. With the partnerships that TCC has with other universities, I’m surprised more students don’t choose TCC.”


The Navy brought Jose’s family to Norfolk and he enrolled in TCC to prepare for a future in law enforcement. While he credits Meredith the most for making his time at the college so special, he also fell in love with the college’s criminal justice program.

“The thing I was most impressed with and still talk about now was the quality of the professors,” said Jose, who graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice. “I had Professor Noor Razzaq for a couple of classes, and it became abundantly clear that he has a passion for teaching. I have never taken so much away from a class before.”

Jose is preparing to join the New South Wales Police Force. Meredith, adjusting to the transition of living 10,000 miles away from home, hopes to eventually own a nail salon.

The couple, who also share a commitment to the beach, swing dancing and walks together, married May 27, 2017 in Richmond.

“TCC is the place where I met my wife,” Jose said. “So it will always hold a special place in my heart.”

As for Valentine’s Day, “No special plans,” Meredith said. “We celebrate our love all year long.”