WJ welcomes new head of security: Patrick Rooney

On November 2, Walter Johnson made an addition to their security team. Patrick Rooney is the new head of security at WJ. This move comes after the departure of Security Head Marc Hoffman.  

Rooney has decades of experience beginning with 17 years of work in the Montgomery County Police Department. At the MCPD, Rooney worked in nearly every district in the county while specializing in both the patrol and drug units.

Rooney enjoys to work closely with people, especially students. After seventeen years in the police department, Rooney got a call to be an MCPS security guard.  The phone rang and a friend of Rooney said, “We’re starting security in [MCPS high schools] and you’d be a good fit because you like working with people.”

Rooney started out at Mark Twain alternative school, which has since closed down, before spending the past 20 years as security team leader at Sherwood High School. Rooney departed Sherwood this year to become head of security at WJ.

While it was a tough decision to leave his job, Rooney saw projections for a population increase in the next five years and figured that he was needed at WJ to keep students safe with the increase of possible risky scenarios.

“Projection for the future is up to 4,000 students in four years, so [Walter Johnson] is almost going to double its size in the next four years,” Rooney said. “I felt that [WJ] was a perfect fit for me so I applied for the job.”

Work hasn’t been easy for Rooney, even in the first weeks at WJ.

“It’s only my second day and I’ve already jumped in the deep end and been involved in a couple of cases,” Rooney said.

Rooney feels one of the most important parts of his job is to make sure students feel comfortable with him.

“My job is to meet [students], so [they] tell me when something bad is going to happen or disruptive in nature,” Rooney said. “A great example of that is a couple of weeks ago, somebody came to [the student resource officer] to tell her about [social media posts threatening a school shooting],” Rooney said. “If students didn’t trust that police officer or the security team, we might have never known about it and it could have been a tragedy.

Despite coming in the middle of the first semester, it seems as if Rooney already has lots of familiarity with his job and the school setting at WJ. Rooney even knows his colleagues from past experiences in the county.

“I know three out of the four [security guards], we’re hoping to get more security [at Walter Johnson] as the population grows,” Rooney said.

Rooney is here at WJ to help make sure students feel safe. Rooney will be able to contribute to the long term safety of WJ and make sure everyone feels comfortable with him and with going to school on a daily basis.