Penn State

Penn State police announces new chief of operations after nationwide search

K-9 Roni is introduced as newest addition to Penn State Police

Penn State Police Officer Phil Peng and K-9 Roni recently completed their training through State Police K-9 school to be certified in finding explosives.
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Penn State Police Officer Phil Peng and K-9 Roni recently completed their training through State Police K-9 school to be certified in finding explosives.

Joe Milek, who is set to be Penn State police’s chief of operations after a nationwide search, said he expects to be “extremely busy for a long time” as he gets to know the 22 communities that the department operates in.

Milek, who is currently the assistant police chief at Oklahoma State University, is set to oversee Penn State’s police operations. He is scheduled to start Aug. 26, the first day of fall semester classes, according to a press release from the university.

“I’m really excited by the opportunity. The challenge that this presents is very exciting,” Milek said Friday. “A lot of time it comes down to fit — and this just feels like such a great fit. I’m looking forward to exploring all of that.”

Milek is set to replace Keith Morris, who resigned in February to pursue other professional opportunities and spend more time with his family, according to the university. The search for Morris’ replacement was ongoing since January, and the university announced Milek’s hiring Friday.

Milek and John Petrick, the university’s chief of police administration, are scheduled to work together under Charlie Noffsinger, the university’s assistant vice president for police and public safety, according to the press release.

A graduate of both Xavier and the University of Cincinnati, Milek served as Xavier’s police chief and director of public safety, and was also a member of the Cincinnati Police Department for more than 20 years, the university said.

“Chief Milek has extensive experience in law enforcement and higher education, which will be a major asset to the department as we continue to grow and develop as one department at 22 campuses across Pennsylvania,” Noffsinger said in a statement.

The decision to leave Sooner State was “extremely difficult,” Milek said, but the opportunity to come to Happy Valley was “too exciting to pass up.”

“It was amazing to see how quickly and how much buy-in a community is willing to give you if you’re forthright with them and you share what your vision is and what your goals are,” Milek said. “I don’t believe that it’s possible to keep a community safe by one person’s actions. I think it really is a community approach, so I’m really a huge advocate of community-oriented policing and working together. It really is the key to keeping a community safe.”

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.
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