New Castle Area School District adds its own police force

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — From metal detectors to video surveillance, the New Castle Junior Senior High School is well secured.

Starting Monday, the school district added an extra layer of security for students and staff with its own police force.

“For safety concerns, we felt it would be best if we had our own so that we can staff and manage as opposed to having to rely on the New Castle Police Department because they have their hands full just like all police departments,” said Sean Van Eman, the school’s principal

The New Castle Police Department provides three school resource officers for each building in the district but sometimes, officers have to be pulled for other police duties.

“The manpower issues at the New Castle Police Department are becoming a bigger problem to staff officers in the school and we don’t know what the future holds so we want to make sure we have adequate police up here,” said Bobby Salem with the school district’s police.

Bobby Salem was the longtime New Castle Police Chief before he retired and became one of 11 security guards for the school. Now he’s part of the school’s new police department with two other armed officers so far. He said school safety has always been his priority.

“It’s something I’ve been involved in for many years so to come up here and be part of this process is awarding to me personally,” said Salem.

He said they will handle incidents on school campuses which will take some burden off New Castle police officers.

“It gives us powers to make arrests, to file criminal charges, to detain students if we needed to,” said Salem.

School leaders said the goal is not to replace SROs or the security team, it’s to increase security.

“We thought it would be best to put more of our resources into this to ensure and give people piece of mind that they know when they sent their kids to our building, they are going to be safe,” said Van Eman.

The next steps for the school’s new police force are hiring more officers, getting uniforms, and developing policies and procedures.

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