Sal Torelli has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years. He’s seen his share of bad stuff, but it hasn’t blinded him to the best life can offer. It’s rare not to see him beaming. His approachable manner makes him easy to talk to and he wears his heart on his sleeve. The best compliment you could pay him is to say, “I like that guy.”
That guy started his career in the early ’80s as a police officer in Warrenton. From there, he went to Prince William County as a police officer in 1985. After five years, he accepted a position with the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, where he spent the next 28 years as a deputy sheriff from July 1990 to June 2018. Fourteen of those years were as a supervisor of the school resource unit and as a school resource officer.
Torelli has a breadth of knowledge and experience in crime prevention and school safety and was instrumental in developing and implementing the current school-crisis management plan. Keeping schools and students safe is his passion and mission.
Certified as a crime prevention specialist since June 2018, he is now serving as a school security officer.
For Torelli, being assigned to Fauquier High School is like coming home. He graduated from there in 1982. Now, his 16-year-old son Ian, a junior, will graduate in 2020.
Torelli said he puts in roughly 20,000 to 25,000 steps every day, walking the hallways of the school and 10 designated areas. He often sees his son going to and from classes.
“He is my life,” Torelli said. “It’s exciting to see him walking the same hallways as I did…and he’s told me that I’m ‘cool’ and that’s good. … He’s got a cop for a father.”
Torelli chuckles with a broad grin. He lives by several mottos, one of which is, “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.”
And smile he does. “Life is a gift,” Torelli said. “Every day is good. … I want to make other people’s lives better. … That’s my job …that they will benefit from me…and a smile goes a long way to help solve problems.”
Torelli didn’t always aspire to be in law enforcement. “I wanted to be a firefighter,” he smiled, “but it was hard finding work in the early ’80s, and being a policeman was a job I got first.”
But he has no regrets.
“I see a lot of parents in the parking lot and around school…they always say ‘hello’, wave, and tell me that they are glad I’m there. They feel safe.”
During his free moments, he likes to spend time with his son, at the firing range, sharing a dinner of Chinese food or a pizza and creating adventures. This summer they are planning a road trip to the Grand Canyon. According to Torelli, his son will be doing most of the driving. Ian’s recently gotten his license.
More than just packing a pistol, Torelli spends much of his day talking with students as a mentor and counselor. For him it’s all about building bridges.
“I’m approachable and good to work with,” added Torelli, a veteran of five school superintendents. “I’ve got the best job even…I love this.”
“Oh, I need to check this,” Torelli said as he looked briefly at a text message. His son had arrived safely at home.
He smiled. “If I leave a legacy it is that I’ve been the best Dad… then he shared that, according to his son, he’s “doing just fine.”
Highly responsible, ethical, patient and professional, as a school security officer, his is a role only entrusted to the very finest.
Reach Anita Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org