Selinsgrove school police force has doubled in 5 years

·2 min read

Jul. 17—SELINSGROVE — In five years, Selinsgrove Area School District's police department has grown from three officers to six.

Chief Mark Wolfberg said the presence of uniformed officers at the schools since 2018 provides extra security for students, parents, faculty and staff, although he said it's too soon to assess the impact.

"We have seen a positive response. We know people feel better seeing us because we're getting phone calls," he said. "Staff and students tell us they feel better that we're here, especially in light of what's happening across the nation."

That wasn't always the case.

During the first years, whenever Wolfberg or the other officers would park the marked patrol car in front of a school, the "building would get phone calls from people asking why we were there. Now they want to know why we aren't there," he said.

Superintendent Frank Jakowski said the administration and the officers work as a team.

"Our goal is to provide an environment where students, staff and family feel comfortable," he said.

It's a priority for schools across the country. There have been 119 school shootings since 2018 and 27 school shootings so far in 2022, according to Education Week.

The May shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school is embroiled in controversy due to surveillance video showing police officers inside the school but failing to act for 77 minutes while the shooter gunned down 19 children and two teachers.

For the past several years, Wolfberg has invited local law enforcement to tour the four Selinsgrove school buildings and campus.

"The turnover with the state police is constant and they're not familiar with our campus," he said. "They will be our first responders to back us up so I want them to know where the buildings are located so they're not coming in cold when we're in a time of need."

Wolfberg regularly gives tours to new troopers based in Selinsgrove, Stonington and Milton, as well as new sheriff deputies, and holds regular training drills with fire and EMS personnel.

"We're trying to be as proactive as we can," he said.