Oct. 28, 2021

HARRISBURG – Three lawmakers whose districts are home to state-owned universities have introduced legislation to streamline the process to hire police officers for those and all other state system campuses. 

Reps. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) say the change will benefit both students and officers in the long run.

“The ultimate goal is to effectively and efficiently protect the safety of our students, faculty and staff on state-owned university campuses like the one I serve in Mansfield,” Owlett said. “It also cuts out some unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that puts our campuses and potential campus police officers at a significant disadvantage in meeting that goal.”

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. 

“Ensuring that our state system campuses are protected to the best of their abilities, this legislation seeks to reduce a time-consuming and often unnecessary process that has little, if any, bearing on an officer’s actual law enforcement duties,” said Oberlander, whose district serves Clarion University. “Reducing this bureaucratic hurdle will help get officers onto these campuses far more quickly, especially at a time when law enforcement officers are greatly needed.”

“Campus security is a critical issue for me in serving the 62nd District, which includes Indiana University of Pennsylvania,” Struzzi said. “Our legislation would remove an unnecessary hurdle from the certification process for law enforcement and enhance the security capabilities of the men and women who choose to serve our campus communities in this capacity.”       

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 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review. 

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 / phippler@pahousegop.com 
Oberlander Media Contact:  Jennifer Algoe Keaton
717.705.2094 / jkeaton@pahousegop.com
Struzzi Media Contact: Scott Little
717.260.6137 / Slittle@pahousegop.com