Butler County Commissioners add detective position to address crime at Butler Area School District
This story was updated at 9 a.m., Jan. 10 to reflect the correct police departments patrolling Seneca Valley School District campuses. A previous version of this story said they were patrolled by Evans City/ Seven Fields Police Department.
Butler County commissioners on Monday approved the creation of a new detective position to squelch crime in Butler Area School District.
District Attorney Richard Goldinger presented the idea to the commissioners during the salary board meeting after a number of discussions with Butler’s superintendent, Brian White.
“This came from concerns about increased issues this school year, which (White) said is occurring in the school and outside the school,” Goldinger said. “He feels the outside behaviors are filtering into the school.”
The new position would be an attempt to combat the increase in fights and drug incidents at Butler Senior High and Butler Intermediate High schools this year, said Commissioner Leslie Osche and White.
“They’re finding a lot of problems are crossing jurisdictions,” Osche said.
“The biggest thing is we hope this person can act as a point person to curtail all the drug activity we see in the county, the cybercrime committed in the county,” White said.
Later at Monday night’s school board meeting, White applauded the commissioners for approving the creation of the detective position to help mitigate the distribution of illicit drugs in schools. He said local law enforcement has been “awesome” to work with over the course of this school year, while drug use has been a growing issue in schools.
“Part of why I had advocated to the county for this position ... people aren’t making informed decisions about what they’re putting in their body,” White said at the school board meeting.
Goldinger said the detective would have the authority to file charges against students involved in criminal activity on school property, and assist in juvenile court proceedings. There are plans to offer the detective’s services to all county school districts, excluding Seneca Valley School District. The three schools on Seneca Valley campus are patrolled by Jackson Township Police Department. The elementary schools are patrolled by Zelienople Police Department and Cranberry Township Police Department.
Most school districts are patrolled by retired state troopers, who don’t have arrest authority, Goldinger explained.
White told the Eagle earlier Monday that the detective would also look at how to stop outside crime from entering the school.
“We’re protecting the children from those who sell things to children — there’s a supply chain to all of this,” he said. “We’re looking at these problems and who brings these problems to the children.”
Osche said the position would require further discussion.
“It sounds like (the position) would be crossing over into dealing with CYS and probation and other entities,” she said. “I’m thinking there has to be a lot more to it than detective. Whoever fills that position is going to have a broader scope than what is typical of a detective.”
The detective position was created unanimously by commissioners.
Goldinger said he and White would be in discussion as to the nature of the job and qualifications required.
In November, 34 of the senior high school’s 2,003 students had six or more referrals for rule violations, said John Wyllie, senior high school co-principal.
Since then, measures have been taken to discourage students from committing violations. White said only three fights were recorded after November, opposed to the 20 prior incidents.
“There’s been a dramatic drop in violent behavior. Now, if you’re physically aggressive, you go to a board hearing, and they could suspend you. Or, you go to our intervention program, which is like afternoon and evening school. You still get educated, just not with everyone else,” he said.
White added that a dean of students was also appointed to handle disciplinary issues.
Eagle staff writer Eddie Trizzino contributed to this report.