Campus Life

University-wide criminal investigation unit under development

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Police and Public Safety Deputy Chief Tom Sowerby was recently appointed as the commander of a new University-wide Criminal Investigation Unit, to better serve 22 Penn State campuses where University Police and Public Safety provides police services.  

Deputy Chief Tom Sowerby Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Sowerby will lead this project and manage all aspects of the team, which includes an investigative lieutenant, four criminal investigators, and a property/evidence technician, according to Penn State Police Chief Joe Milek. Sowerby’s team will work closely with a cadre of supervisors and officers with similar training and experience throughout the commonwealth.  

“This initiative has been well-received across the commonwealth,” Milek said. “We were overwhelmed by the outreach from our peers, offering to assist us in many different ways. Building relationships is one of the keys to our success as an investigative unit and a large professional law enforcement organization. We want to work closely with our internal and external partners. The first step is building relationships and simultaneously establishing trust. We can’t do this alone, and we don’t want to.”

University Police and Public Safety’s department headquarters at University Park will serve as the new base of operations for the unit. The physical move from the University Park police station at Eisenhower Parking Deck to University Support Building I on campus will allow members of the unit to work closely with the Behavioral Threat Management Team, Clery Compliance, Police Records, Physical Security and Emergency Management units to identify and address incidents that take place at campuses across the commonwealth.  

Previously, only the University Park police station employed criminal investigators in-house; however, since the department in 2017 centralized police services at 22 campuses into one police unit, criminal investigators at University Park have been assisting with investigations at other campuses. Launching a department-wide criminal investigations unit equipped with personnel and resources to serve 22 campuses is a critical piece of centralization under the leadership of UPPS Assistant Vice President Charlie Noffsinger.  

“Criminal investigations are becoming increasingly complex and require a great deal of specialization. With this revamped allocation of trained personnel and available technology and equipment, we will better support and assist each of our police stations, and this is the most efficient and effective means of doing that,” Noffsinger said. 

Sowerby previously served as district commander at University Park, a role he began in 2017. He said he is excited about the new challenge to build and implement this initiative.  

“It is no secret that my true passion is criminal investigations,” Sowerby said. “The timing was perfect, and I jumped at the opportunity. I’m able to do the work that I love, continue to work with the people I respect, and build something new that I hope will be part of my legacy. I also have the opportunity to maintain ties with my University Park family and work closely with my replacement, Deputy Chief Stephanie Delaney, during the transition.”

Sowerby, who has been part of the department for 33 years, graduated from Penn State with a degree in administration of justice. After graduation, he completed the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Police Academy and moved up through the ranks in the department, earning the title of deputy chief in 2011. He served as a detective in the department for 10 years.


Last Updated August 06, 2020