HARRISBURG – Recognizing the importance of campus security, the state House has approved legislation that will ease the hiring of campus police officers by state System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities.
The vote was applauded by the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana), who represent Mansfield, Clarion and Indiana universities, respectively.
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.
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. This, the lawmakers said, puts state system campuses at a disadvantage when recruiting officers.
“This is a simple and sensible change that will make it easier for campuses like Mansfield University to meet the public safety needs of students, faculty and staff,” Owlett said. “I appreciate the bipartisan support for the measure and encourage prompt action by the Senate.”
“Removing this unnecessary and duplicative paperwork will help make our campuses safer because it will allow officers to get to work that much faster,” Oberlander said.
“Campuses like Indiana University of Pennsylvania and its PASSHE counterparts are experiencing staffing shortages like many other entities in today’s world,” Struzzi said. “I’m glad to see my House colleagues unanimously advance this legislation so we can move closer to full security complements and ensuring safe education environments.”
House Bill 1988 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.
The bill now goes to the Senate 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