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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: December 28, 2012 09:51 AM
From: Representative Daryl D. Metcalfe
To: All House members
Subject: Empowering School Districts to Provide more Protection
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to give our schools better tools to address the growing concern over violence on school property.

I’m sure that you were as stunned as I was when the news broke about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The reality is that there are people in this world who are evil and will prey on the most vulnerable among us.

Under Section 778 of the Public School Code of 1941, school districts may establish “school police officers” by making an application to the Court of Common Pleas. The court must review the application and may grant the school police officers the power to arrest, issue citations for ordinance violations and carry a firearm in the course of their duties. However, school police officers must first complete Municipal Police Officers Education and Training in order to carry out their duties (i.e. make arrests, issue citations for ordinance violations or carry a firearm).

This section of the Public School Code also provides that nothing in Section 778 prevents a school district from employing school security personnel.

In a conversation with an attorney for a local school district and the director for the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education, it became apparent to me that the law was too restrictive as it related to the training requirements for school police officers. Also, I came to find out that most schools will not arm their security personnel absent statutory authority to do so.

My legislation amends the Public School Code to expand the training certification to serve as a school police officer. In addition to Municipal Police Officer Training, my legislation would also recognize graduation from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy and Deputy Sheriff’s Education and Training (Act 2 of 1984).

Additionally, my legislation adds a section to the School Code to clarify that a school district may employ, or contract for the services of, school security personnel as they deem necessary. Any security personnel authorized by the school district to carry a firearm must first complete appropriate training, which includes any of the following:
  • Municipal Police Education and Training
  • The Pennsylvania State Police Academy
  • Deputy Sheriff’s Education and Training (Act 2 of 1984)
  • Lethal Weapons Training (Act 235 of 1974)
  • Retired Law Enforcement Identification (Act 79 of 2005)
  • Any other firearms program that has been determined by the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police to be of sufficient scope and duration as to provide the participant with basic training in the use and handling of firearms.
I believe that we should take a measured approach to this very serious issue and I urge you to co-sponsor this legislation.

Whether a school district wishes to establish “school police officers” or “school security personnel” is a decision best left to the school administration. Our obligation as policy makers is to give them the flexibility they need to address their individual security concerns.

Introduced as HB715