Campus police expands after break-ins

By Brielle Bryan
Production Manager

Members of Campus Police, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and families of the officers gathered in Paul Loser Hall on the cool morning of Jan. 17, for the swearing-in ceremony of five Campus Police officers.

Interim Police Chief Tim Grant welcomed the attendees and introduced the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri, Chief of Detectives Veldon Harris and Deputy Chief of Detectives Robert Dispoto administered the oath.

“Having the prosecutor administer the oaths to the officers made it more special,” said James Lopez, Campus Police lieutenant.

Officers Kristen Albertson, Philip Apgar, Daniel Butchko, Theodore Camastra and Tiffany Reed were commissioned. The officers put one hand on the Bible and one hand in the air as, one at a time, they each echoed the oath.

“Most of the officers were hired initially as security and were sent to the police academy and promoted to police officer,” Grant said.

Lopez started working overnight security at the College. He became a sergeant a few years later and was eventually promoted to lieutenant.

Campus police welcomes five new officers. (Courtesy of Ashley Long)
Campus police welcomes five new officers. (Courtesy of Ashley Long)

At full strength, Campus Police should include one chief, one captain, one lieutenant, six sergeants and 14 officers, Grant said.

However, this structure is not always tightly followed. Grant, the previous captain, took over as interim chief when the previous chief, John Collins, retired in December 2016. Currently, there is no captain — only five sergeants and 11 officers.

Although short a few officers, Campus Police upped its security after an intruder snuck into residence halls during the fall semester. Since then, suspect Jon Cannon, a 25-year-old resident of Levittown, Pa., was arrested by Campus Police in connection with the intrusions.

Following the commission of the five new officers, Campus Police held an award ceremony to acknowledge those who went above and beyond to help maintain safety and security on campus.

Title IX Coordinator Jordan Draper and Title IX Investigator Elizabeth Gallus were the first to be awarded for their efforts to help Campus Police locate the intruder.

Draper and Gallus are both members of the Coordinated Community Response Team, along with Anti-Violence Initiative Coordinator Michelle Lambing.

According to Lambing, the Coordinated Community Response Team is a group that meets regularly to discuss sexual violence on campus.

“When students want to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, they have two options,” Lambing said. “They can go through the criminal process, which is Campus Police, or they can go through the Title IX process.”

Title IX is a less intense process for students that may be reluctant to discuss sexual violence, however, the Title IX office and Campus Police typically work together to investigate cases of sexual violence on campus.

Draper and Gallus searched through ID swipes into residence halls, eliminated suspects and helped put law enforcement on the  right path toward finding the suspect.

“It’s one thing to have policies in place to make sure that there’s cooperation, but it’s another thing to have good friends that are going to be there and help you out,” Grant, who has become friends with Draper and Gallus, said.

According to Grant, the two “didn’t ask if (Campus Police) needed help. They just jumped in.”

The award ceremony also honored those who helped with a different sexual assault case. Sergeant Marcie Montalvo said a student reported she was assaulted by a fellow student while she was incapacitated and unconscious in her on-campus dorm room.

Officer Cheryl Campbell of Campus Police and Detective Brittney Aspromonti of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office were awarded for their work, which resulted in criminal charges being signed.

“Watching the two of you interview the suspect that night… it could have been used as a training film,” Grant said to Campbell and Aspromonti.

Montalvo added that their tone and way of questioning were key factors in the suspect sharing crucial information.

The information the suspect shared provided evidence of the diminished mental capacity of the victim at the time of the assault, resulting in the accused being charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault.

The last award was given to newly commissioned Officer Reed and Detective Michael Ferraro of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office for their successful investigation of the fall semester intruder.

“It’s like an actor that played five different parts,” Grant said, referring to Reed’s role in the investigation. “She was undercover, she was the case agent, she did surveillance, she did the intelligence work and she collated all the information.”

According to Montalvo, Campus Police sorted through almost 4,000 files from Cannon’s phone, and Reed ultimately found information that led to two accomplices.

The information led to further investigation with Cannon’s connection to a sexual assault incident at Wyoming University on May 6, 2016 where his DNA was confirmed to match the DNA left at the crime scene.

“A serial sexual predator and two accomplices had been arrested due to the unbending resolve of lead investigators,” Montalvo said.

As the ceremony ended, Campus Police officers, Title IX coordinators and members of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office congratulated those who were commissioned and commemorated.

“It’s important to recognize what a great job the officers do,” Lopez said.