Newest class of sheriff deputies set to graduate from Penn State-run academy

Penn State Justice and Safety Institute administers Pennsylvania's Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff Education and Training Program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Roxanne Tucci spent 25 years working in law enforcement and the military, and she wanted to remain active within her community when she retired last year.

So, the Westmoreland County native decided to become a deputy sheriff, and Penn State helped her accomplish her goal.

“I can help somebody in need,” said Tucci, 51, who worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. “It’s getting out into the community and showing people that we care.”

The Penn State Justice and Safety Institute (JASI) is the lone administrator for Pennsylvania’s Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff Education and Training Program, which all sheriffs and deputy sheriffs from Pennsylvania’s 67 counties must complete before beginning active duty.

Tucci was among 33 deputy sheriffs recognized during a graduation ceremony at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 18, at the University Park campus.

The 19-week academy, held in State College, provides expertise in several law enforcement areas, including Pennsylvania crime codes and civil procedures, cultural diversity, ethics, firearms, first responder/first aid, defensive tactics, courtroom security and physical training. Penn State JASI utilizes judges, attorneys and local, state and federal law enforcement officers to help deliver the training.

Abigail Baptiste, from Carbon County, said she always wanted to work in law enforcement, and becoming a deputy sheriff will allow her to help her community.

“I want to be a positive face and protect people,” she said. “I want to let them know they’re safe in their own community and environment.”

Baptiste, 27, said she hopes to one day work in the federal government and that becoming a deputy sheriff will serve as a stepping-stone for her career.

For Joe Kristobak, he is set to become a Lebanon County deputy sheriff after a nearly 35-year career as an educator. The 62-year-old spent his last four years in education as the superintendent for Cornwall-Lebanon School District.

He praised the program and staff for preparing him for his next act in law enforcement.

“The staff and instructors have been fantastic,” said Kristobak, who was looking to stay active after retirement. “It’s been very rigorous. This has been the most difficult thing, mentally and physically, that I’ve ever done. They’ve done an excellent job teaching and holding everyone to a high standard.”

The current class of deputy sheriffs is the 54th to graduate since 2000, when the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency selected Penn State JASI as the academy’s administrator.

Penn State JASI partners with Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Public Affairs.