HARRISBURG (March 27, 2015) – In an effort to improve public safety on campus grounds, Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) has introduced legislation to clarify the zones where campus police officers employed by the 14 state-owned universities have arrest powers.
“While campus and municipal police officers are both dedicated to the protection of college students, educators and the public, large events can overwhelm limited resources, and confusion over jurisdiction can cloud enforcement efforts,” Smucker said. “My legislation will clearly spell out the jurisdiction of campus police officers so that arrest powers along all sections of college grounds are clearly delineated.”
A court decision handed down in October 2014 created a loophole in the law, which Smucker’s legislation is designed to rectify.
In that case, the Superior Court determined that a road running through a university campus was not technically “campus grounds.” As a result, the court held that a campus police officer had no authority to stop a driver for a Motor Vehicle Code violation, even though field sobriety tests clearly indicated that the driver was legally intoxicated.
“This court decision has the potential to further strain already overburdened municipal police departments in college towns and could reduce the level of campus safety for college students, visitors, professors and employees,” Smucker said.
His legislation, Senate Bill 678, would amend the Public School Code to ensure that campus police officers employed by the state-owned universities have the power to make arrests on campus grounds. These duties are already possessed by municipal police officers and state-related university police officers. The legislation would clearly spell out that these powers apply on campus grounds, including highways, roadways and traffic ways that traverse or abut lands and buildings owned, controlled, leased or managed by the universities of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE).
These 14 universities include Millersville, along with Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities.