Somerset Borough Police Department Service Units
The Somerset Borough Police Department have been pursuing accreditation by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC) for a number of years. The PLEAC accreditation process is simply showing compliance in the department’s operations with the 134 PLEAC Standards of Compliance. However, the process is an extremely work-intensive process.
Beginning in 2005, a new, PLEAC-compliant Policy and Procedure Manual was introduced as well as the introduction of forms and procedures that demonstrated compliance with PLEAC standards. However, the state and condition of the former station was always an insurmountable impediment to gaining accreditation.
On March 31, 2010, the Commission voted unanimously to approve the Team’s recommendation and the department became accredited for a term of three years, beginning March 12, 2010. Since then, the department has been reaccredited in 2013 and 2016. There are approximately 1,200 municipal police departments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Somerset Borough Police Department is one of 108 Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies that are accredited. View more details >>
An often overlooked component of any police department is its administration. Performing this administrative function is a team made up of:
- Mayor Scott Walker
- Chief Randy Cox
- Sergeant Steve Borosky
- Sergeant Rich Appel
The scheduling, training, certification and disciplining of officers all fall under the administrative umbrella. Further, the budgeting of resources, acquisition and maintenance of equipment, planning and information technology functions of the operation of the department are the responsibility of the administrative staff.
Probably one the most well known officers of the department doesn’t have a driver’s license, can’t type, understands more Czech than English, and lives with one of the other officers. Of course, we are talking about K9 Arny who is the partner of Officer Brian Harbart.
Arny has been partnering with Officer Harbart and living with the Harbart family since November 2005. Arny became fully certified in Narcotics and Patrol (which includes obedience, article search, aggression and tracking and trailing) in June 2006.
Since then, the K9 Team have proven themselves invaluable to the department and community through their very specialized work. Arny came to Somerset through the foresight and creative thinking of resident Mark Miller and with funding support from the Somerset County Single County Authority and the County Commissioners.
K9 Arny retired in January 2015 and passed away in March 2015. In May 2015, Officer Harbart was partnered with K9 Ajay, a two year old Belgium Malinois. Harbart and Ajay have since been carrying on the high standard established by K9 Arny.
The Somerset Borough Police Criminal Investigation Unit is made up of one supervising detective, Sergeant Rich Appel, two detectives Ruth Beckner and Angelo Cancelliere, and Police Secretary Rebecca St. Clair. While Patrol officers handle many and varied investigations on a routine basis, those more challenging and/or serious cases are the responsibility of the detectives. These cases include burglaries involving over $2,000.00 in loss, Robbery, Homicide and other death investigations, serious sex assault crimes and child-victim crimes. The detectives also assist the Patrol officers in the completion of their own investigations.
Crime Scene Processing
Investigations Sergeant Rich Appel is a certified Crime Scene Examiner and is responsible for the processing of all crime scenes encountered by the SPD. Additionally, Rich also processes all items of evidence that don’t require the services of a forensic scientist in the SPD’s very basic crime lab, located in the Public Safety Building. Some of the procedures that Rich performs include:
- Crime scene photography;
- Latent fingerprint identification and development;
- Track identification casting;
- Tool mark identification casting;
- Latent evidence identification and chemical processing;
- Computer forensics and electronic evidence
- Identification and collection of firearms trace evidence
- Biological evidence identification and collection
- Accident investigation and related trace evidence
- Identification and collection of arson related evidence
Additionally, Rich has completed additional training in the investigation of injury and death investigations, sexual assault, crimes involving children, child death, robbery, burglary, theft, fire and arson investigation and drug crime investigation. He has also received advanced training in crime scene protocol, interview and interrogation, reporting, crime lab services, pre-employment screening and criminal personality profiling.
Rich is a member of the International Association for Identification (IAI). Members must be reputable persons wholly or partially engaged in any of the various forensic sciences and receive salaries from national, state, county or municipal governments or a subdivision thereof. It is a highly recognized association within the field.
Crisis Intervention Team
Approximately one half of the Somerset Borough Police Department’s officers are certified as Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers. CIT is a nationally recognized and implemented method of and approach to policing that specializes in the interaction between the police and the mental health community. Long ago tiring of simply arresting and re-arresting individuals with mental health and emotional disorders, the department looked to and found in CIT an alternative approach that has proven to be very successful.
The training, presented by mental health professionals and consumers, aims to provide officers with a greater understanding of the nature of the illnesses and difficulties experienced by the mentally and emotionally challenged as well as better policing approaches to effectively dealing with and assisting this special-needs population.
The Somerset Borough Police Motor Unit was introduced in late 2005 and currently has four officer-members.
The officers completed a demanding 40 hour initial training course and annual refresher courses.
The motors, are Harley Davidson Police Electra Glides and have proven to be an effective patrol tool as well as an economical one. It is estimated that the same amount of fuel needed to operate the Motor for two months is consumed by a traditional cruiser in a shift.
School Resource Officer & D.A.R.E
In cooperation with and through funding by the Somerset Area School District, a Somerset Borough Police Officer is assigned the “beat” of the district’s four buildings, located on two campuses.
The school based officers are on the job each and every school day. Additionally, regular patrol officers enter each of the four buildings at random times during the school day to complete interior foot patrols during their shifts.
The Somerset Borough Police Department is grateful to have the opportunity to work with a school district that is so open to and supportive of a law enforcement presence.
As a unit of one, Sergeant Steve Borosky coordinates the department’s use of much of its technological equipment. Most of the items have been acquired through grants and Sergeant Borosky has traveled as far as Texas to be trained and certified in their use. This equipment includes:
- Voice Stress Analysis software
- The end result of Voice Stress Analysis (VSA) is very much like the polygraph process: a physiological approach to detecting deception. However, unlike the polygraph, VSA utilizes computer software to analyze voice modulation of a subject during a recorded interview. Voice modulation can be a sign of deception.
- Video Detective
- Video Detective is a package consisting of a laptop computer and associated software, digital cameras and DVD and VCR player/burner. The unit is used to enhance and reproduce video and/or photographic evidence.
- Portable Video Surveillance
- The Portable Video Surveillance package consists of a laptop computer/monitor and various sized cameras that may be placed surreptitiously to aid in the investigation of criminal activity. An added bonus is that the equipment is self-operating and does not need to be tended by an officer. In other words, the department is able to conduct a stake-out without expending the many man-hours that a traditional stake-out would normally entail.
- Thermal Imaging Monocular
- The Thermal Imaging Monocular is a night vision device that aids officers in “seeing the unseen” in darkness. Its uses are varied and include the search for suspects, recovery of trace evidence, search for lost persons and identification of hidden threats to officers.
- Sergeant Borosky has trained the entire department in its use and it accompanies patrol officers on a daily basis.
OIC Borosky is also responsible for maintenance of the department’s records management system, cNET and administration of JNET, a criminal justice information sharing system that avails the officers of criminal intelligence and data from other agencies at the local, state and federal levels.
Traffic Safety Unit
Despite the impression held by anyone who has ever received a traffic citation a simple truth about police and traffic enforcement is that in most cases officers will do traffic when they have time. For most patrol officers this is when they are fairly well caught up on their paperwork and are not busy answering calls for service. A few years ago, the Somerset Borough Police Department realized that their traffic enforcement work was way down and that the reason for this was the significant increase being experienced in calls and offenses reported. In other words, patrol officers simply did not have time to engage in traffic enforcement. Since traffic enforcement and safety is one of the core functions of any police department, it was realized that something had to be done to remedy the situation. This led to the creation of the Traffic Unit. Officers assigned to the traffic unit devote their shift to traffic monitoring and enforcement and do not answer normal calls for service unless they are of a very serious nature and regular shift officers need assistance.
They don’t carry guns, they don’t wear uniforms, they can’t arrest anyone. However, this group of individuals is as responsible for the work and service to the community as any of the sworn officers. The Police Secretaries, Rebecca St. Clair, Kristy Stephens and Cheryl Lohr are probably the first and only impression of the department possessed by the vast majority citizens. They are the ones who greet visitors to the Public Safety Building or answer the phone to address questions and concerns. They are the ones who answer the officers’ questions about a myriad of topics. They are the ones who keep the place running.
As anyone who is involved in providing a service or product to the consumer can appreciate and attest, the Somerset Borough Police Department would simply not function as smoothly without this competent and effective group of people.