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Pike inmate security and state violence reduction effort

Pike County Sheriff Phil Bueki
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
January 29, 2014

MILFORD, PA — Early last year, in the wake of the Newtown school massacre, Pennsylvania and many other states decided to take a look at how they were handling school security, bullying, gun ownership, gang violence and other issues related to violent crime.

Glenn Pasewicz, executive director of the Joint State Government Commission, said a 34-member advisory committee was authorized by the PA state senate to look at laws applicable to these topics, as well mental illness and treatment, education issues and cultural influences including violent video games.

Because of his long history with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, Pike County Sheriff Phil Bueki was asked to serve. The committee reported in December and called for amendment, revocation or creation of some 15 state laws, Bueki told the county commissioners on January 16.

At the top of his remarks, Bueki assured gun owners that neither legal gun ownership, nor the privacy of their homes would be impacted by the changes. “I hold gun ownership close to my heart. I’m very pro-gun, pro-family and pro-Constitution,” he said.

That said, he reported that some gun-related laws are no longer pertinent. He cited an 1840s law which provided that someone convicted of armed robbery had 60 days to surrender the weapon. “Now we’ll have immediate confiscation.”

He said the committee recommended common-sense changes to make schools safer.

There will be legislation to address electronic bullying; 80% of elementary school students admit that have been subjected to it.

Pennsylvania will not arm school teachers and administrators, but there will be $15 to $20 million for school police and their training, he said.

Bueki said he is not an advocate of additional electronic monitoring at school entrances, but legislators will incorporate anything the schools feel necessary to improve security. “Do I want it… not really, but maybe it’s something we have to go to.”

Commissioners’ Chair Rich Caridi commended the sheriff for his efforts to help “close the loopholes and protect the law-abiding.”

Courthouse security issues