HARRISBURG – Legislation to help boost security on campuses within the State System of Higher Education was approved by the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, announced the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana).
The lawmakers each serve legislative districts that are home to state system schools.
“It’s so important to keep our campuses secure and our students, faculty and staff safe,” said Owlett, whose district is home to Mansfield University. “We need to change the current law to get rid of unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that is putting our campuses and potential campus police officers at a significant disadvantage.”
House Bill 1988
would place campus police departments and campus police officers within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers’ Education Training and Commission (MPOETC) for police certification, commission and training. The change would allow a campus officer to be immediately employed by a state system campus police force rather than having to go through a potentially months-long process of obtaining a commission from the governor via the state Department of Education.
The lawmakers note that officers who complete MPOETC training can be immediately employed by municipal police departments and state-related university campuses; only those who wish to work on state system campuses are required to go through the extra step of obtaining a commission from the state.
“All areas of law enforcement are experiencing a shortage of personnel and removing this unnecessary hurdle in getting officers onto our campuses will help ensure safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors,” said Oberlander, whose district serves Clarion University. “In no way does this additional process affect an officer’s duty or ability to do his or her job, and it just makes common sense for State System officers to undergo an already streamlined process as other municipal forces.”
“The men and women who serve in law enforcement should be applauded for the line of work they have chosen and the related risks they are willing to take on,” said Struzzi. “Part of doing so includes ensuring they are trained not just sufficiently but in a timely manner so they can continue the work of making campuses like Indiana University of Pennsylvania and its PASSHE counterparts more secure.”
The change would also ensure recent and future reforms to laws impacting law enforcement apply automatically to campus police officers. It would also authorize state system campus police officers to wear body cameras, furthering increasing campus police accountability and public trust.
House Bill 1988 will now go to the full House for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett, 68th District
Representative Donna Oberlander, 63rd District
Representative Jim Struzzi, 62nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Owlett Media Contact: Patricia Hippler
717.772.9846 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Oberlander Media Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton
717.705.2094 / email@example.com
Struzzi Media Contact: Scott Little
717.260.6137 / Slittle@pahousegop.com