State police unveiled and dedicated the new barracks that puts all state police operations in Centre County under one roof Wednesday morning, amid concerns that the move means the Philipsburg area will not receive adequate police coverage.
The new barracks are located on 330 Penn Tech Road near the state Route 150 and Interstate 99 interchange in Bellefonte. According to Maj. Maynard Gray, the PSP Area II commander, the building is 15,183 square feet and has 77 employees, including civilian clerical staff, non-sworn police communication officers and troopers.
On July 24, state police officially merged the Philipsburg and Rockview barracks, closing both the Philipsburg and Milesburg state police facilities.
Lt. Gregory Bernard, the Rockview station commander, said there are no issues with coverage in Philipsburg, because troopers are assigned to patrol “zones” in Philipsburg Borough and the surrounding areas. After the consolidation, the station readjusted some of those zones to maximize coverage for the Moshannon Valley and Bald Eagle Valley.
State police is “constantly and consistently” in the Philipsburg area “so that (residents) do not receive any less customer service than any other citizen within this Centre County region,” Bernard said.
The new Rockview building includes a “state of the art” security system, a building sally port “utilized to load and unload prisoners” in a safe manner, a larger evidence room with “high density shelving,” an on-site impound lot with a helicopter pad and a new radio system and larger communications room capable of housing three police communications officers at one time, said Gray.
Troopers dispatched to zones are able to work out of their patrol cars, which are equipped with computers and a GPS system. On the new radio system, computers in the station show which officers are on duty and their locations on the map. When a call comes in, the location appears on the map, and police communications officers are able to view which officers are responding to the call in real time.
The new station does not have holding cells, but it does have benches for temporarily holding prisoners while troopers file charges against them. The new camera system is trained on each holding bench and most offices and outdoor spaces in and around the building.
Bernard said the station move will benefit state police operations and response times.
“The quick access to the interstates (I-99 and I-80) ... within this county makes it a very advantageous location for us,” he said.