Carbondale Area Creates School Police Department

CARBONDALE, Pa. -- The Carbondale Area School District approved a new hire this week: a police officer.

The retired trooper rounds out the school's own police department just launched this school year.

Police officers in schools is not a new concept, but a school police department is. Carbondale Area School District is among the first school districts in our area to take this step.

Students in the Carbondale Area School District were met with a new face this school year: Mike Golay. After more than 25 years as a state trooper, this is a change of pace for him, too.

"It's been very refreshing for me. It's wonderful working with the children and making sure that they're safe every day," Golay said.

As the district's new director of school safety and security, Golay serves the school just like a police officer serves their jurisdiction. He patrols the school buildings, walking five or six miles a day, routinely checking all the ways in and out.

A Lackawanna County judge signed off on creating the Carbondale Area School District Police Department. It's two members carry guns and have arrest powers.

"We will respond just as if it were any other crime that was committed. If it rises to the level of a misdemeanor, then we will look to the assistance of the Carbondale Police Department who have been a tremendous help to us," Golay said.

The two departments had to collaborate just last week when students reported an alleged threat of violence on campus. Golay told Newswatch 16 that the threat was unfounded, but highlights the necessity of constant police protection at the school.

Carbondale Area Superintendent Robert Mehalick agreed.

"I have always felt safe with the Carbondale Police, what I feel now is that things we were not considering, areas of the district that may have been vulnerable, those are no longer soft targets for us," Mehalick said.

A new state law requires every school district to appoint a director of school safety by the end of this school year. Carbondale Area took it a step further by creating its own police department. Administrators think that may become the new norm.