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Ruling allows Leechburg Area school security guard to carry gun

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
 

The Leechburg Area School District's school security officer will be able to carry a gun, an Armstrong County judge has ruled.

In an order dated Friday, Judge James Panchik approved the district's request to create a school police officer position and for Roger Kaufman, a recently retired state police officer, to fill it.

The school board hired Kaufman, 49, of Harrison on Sept. 18 as school security officer and director of school safety.

He had been a state police trooper for nearly 21 years, from October 1992 until retiring in July. He had served four years in the Air Force as a jet engine mechanic.

Kaufman was to start Sept. 19. His pay was set at $16 per hour for the full-time, 10-month-a-year position.

In the district's petition to the court, Leechburg Area Solicitor Robert Cinpinski cited “recent nationwide occurrences, particularly some within school settings” as a reason for the creation of a school safety officer position with school police authority.

The court found that Kaufman, a 1992 graduate of the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, is qualified and satisfies all requirements to be appointed as a school police officer.

Panchik approved the district's request for Kaufman to have law enforcement authority.

In addition to enforcing “good order” in school buildings and on school buses and grounds, Kaufman has the power to arrest, issue citations for summary offenses and detain students until local police arrive.

Kaufman had worked the final 18 years of his career at the state police station in East Franklin, making him familiar with the school district's area, its residents, local police and “the nature of the events that are likely to occur,” according to the district's petition.

Leechburg Area interim Superintendent Frank Prazenica and school board President Jean Stull could not be reached for comment on Monday.

When on duty, except when working as a detective, Kaufman will have to wear a metallic shield or badge in plain view with the words “school police” and the district's name upon it.

The district will have to submit an annual report to the state Education Department that includes the number of school police officers it employs and the date and type of training provided to each school police officer.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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