(Posted August 2, 2004)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College Security Services Department has been granted authority as a private police department by Judge Stewart Kurtz, Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County and will now be known as the Juniata College Police Department, according to Rocco Panosetti, director of the college's police department.

According to Panosetti, the recognition as a private police force under Pennsylvania Act 501 allows the college's police officers to exercise full police powers within their jurisdictional areas (which includes off-site areas such as the Baxter Building, the Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Peace Chapel Nature preserve, and the Raystown Field Station.

"This new designation will improve our service to the campus community and it gives us better tools to serve the surrounding community as well," Panosetti says.

The designation as a police department means that Juniata's police force, which is comprised of seven full-time officers and two part-time officers, will be required to undergo full training at one of the many police academies across the state. Currently, the Juniata department has two officers who have completed police academy training. The remaining officers will complete the training as scheduling permits.

"We will still call upon the Huntingdon Borough Police Department to investigate crimes on campus and assist us in investigating crimes," Panosetti explains. We also will continue to report our campus crime statistics to the borough police, state police and the F.B.I., as we have done in the past."

The re-designation as a police department allows Juniata's police force to apply for various state and federal grants. In addition, the designation also allows police officers working for the college to participate in professional development training such as terrorism measures, municipal policing, criminal investigation and other training.

"Improved training is really a plus for our students who rely on us for police services," Panosetti says. "It really allows us to provide better police services to a campus and a community that deserves our best service."

Panosetti emphasized that the Juniata police department will still work closely with Huntingdon Borough Police to enforce laws and regulations on campus. The Juniata police officers also will have police powers to enforce laws on property adjacent or near Juniata property. "We could not have accomplished this without the cooperation of the Huntingdon borough police," he says.

Panosetti says the borough police will continue to enforce parking regulations on borough streets and Juniata police will enforce parking regulations on campus, but both police entities will be able to enforce moving traffic violations.

The Juniata police officers also will have a clearly marked, fully equipped patrol vehicle, a Ford Explorer. Typically on a Juniata security shift there is one mobile patrol and a patrolman on foot. The campus also has several bicycle patrol officers.

Reclassification as a police department also allows the college's officers to access various databases containing sensitive information for law enforcement agencies. Such databases are available to all police departments to streamline investigations and information gathering.

"This will make our relationship to the borough and to the community that much stronger," Panosetti says.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.