BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ — The traditional "walk-out" for retiring Police Officer Gina Loschiavo was held outdoors at police headquarters on Tuesday, one day before the official July 1 retirement of the first female officer ever hired in Bernards Township. This one, however, had a twist in that there were no farewell handshakes or hugs in compliance with state orders to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Gina Loschiavo, most recently the school resource officer at the William Annin Middle School, was lauded both by the Bernards Township Committee at a virtual committee meeting recently, and by Police Chief Mike Shimsky.

Loschiavo had been a police officer for 25 years, but had joined the Bernards Township department in 1998, coming from Branchburg Township.

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"It’s hard to believe that twenty-two years has passed since Gina became the first female police officer to join the ranks of the Bernards Township police department," said Police Chief Michael Shimsky. "In her time here, [Loschiavo] has served proudly in a number of capacities, most notably as a DARE officer for many years. I receive comments to this day from former students who remember Gina as their DARE instructor in middle school and what a positive impact she has had on them," the chief said.

Shimsky said that whenever he visits WAMS, "It is abundantly evident the impact she has on the students who affectionally refer to her in the hallways as Officer 'G-Lo.'"

The police chief estimated the walk-out attracted about 150 attendees, and the event complied with state executive orders regarding Coronavirus precautions." Those precautions "did not permit any handshaking, hugging etc. All participants were asked to wear masks and to maintain social distancing consistent with the Executive Order," Shimsky said. "We had a few people in the crowd monitoring and reminding participants, and thankfully it appeared that everyone was in compliance."

Kudos from other township officials

The resolution honoring Loschiavo, approved by the Township Committee recently, proclaimed that the governing body "desires to convey to you an expression of its appreciation and grateful acknowledgment for the valued services rendered by you as a police officer for 25 years, over 22 of which have been with the Township of Bernards."

"You have given generously of your time and efforts in a dignified, faithful and professional manner," Loschiavo said. 

Mayor James Baldassare, whose wife is a police officer, said the committee appreciated all that Loschiavo had done for the community. He added she was "was one of the first people I got to know on the police department."

"So many of the children have respected her through the years," said Township Committeeman Janice Fields. She wished the officer "good health and wonderful years' ahead.

Shimsky recalled his own first memory of Loschiavo, when he attended orientation before entering the Somerset County Police Academy in 1996. "Gina addressed the recruit class offering insight to daily police academy life," he said.

Speaking about her retirement, the chief said Loschiavo's presence and daily smile will be greatly missed. "We will miss Gina and wish her, Frank, Paul and Carmela the absolute best wishes in retirement," he said.