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Old Forge Police Accreditation in Question

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Newswatch 16 that the Old Forge Police Department, rocked by a sex abuse scandal, could now lose an accreditation from a Pennsylvania Police Chiefs Association.

That department, ironically, is the only one in Lackawanna County with the endorsement.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association said they are looking into the developing scandal in the Old Forge Police Department and what Chief Larry Semenza's been accused of. The new allegations against him could cost the department its accreditation.

The focus of the sexual abuse scandal in Old Forge shifted this week when investigators served a second search warrant on the borough's police department.

County detectives and agents from the FBI were looking for records after hearing accusations that Police Chief Larry Semenza had asked officers to delete information in police reports and covered up crimes committed by friends of the department.

Semenza, along with Police Captain James Krenitsky and former Old Forge firefighter Walter Chiavacci, are accused of having sexual contact with the same teenage girl several years ago.

Now that the investigation has grown, it could affect the whole department and its accreditation from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. The accreditation seal is on each police car.

Old Forge is the only department in Lackawanna County with the distinction.

Officials from the association said now they will review the accreditation for Old Forge. 

The accreditation doesn't have anything to do with the personal conduct of the officers, just how the department is run. The department has to meet a long list of standards to keep the distinction.

One of those standards requires police officers to keep accurate information in reports, something Semenza allegedly violated.

If the Old Forge Police Department loses its accreditation it won't affect how police officers do their jobs, but it might cause insurance costs for the department to go up.

Police Chief Larry Semenza and Police Captain James Krenitsky are both suspended from the department with no pay.