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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: October 6, 2021 10:45 AM
From: Representative Clint Owlett and Rep. Donna Oberlander, Rep. James B. Struzzi, II
To: All House members
Subject: Certification of State System Campus Police Officers
Soon, we plan to introduce legislation that would place Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education’s (State System) police departments and campus police officers under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers’ Education Training and Commission (MPOETC) for police certification, commission, and training.

Presently, like all municipal police officers, State System police officers are required to complete the initial MPOETC basic police officer educational training program before becoming police officers. Yet unlike municipal police officers who are considered MPOETC-certified and can be immediately employed, a State System University is required to seek and obtain a commission for each police officer from the governor via Pennsylvania’s Department of Education before he or she may conduct police duties. This process can take many months, delaying a university’s hiring of police officers. Another irony is while officers who graduate from either Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s or Mansfield University’s MPOETC-certified police training academies can immediately conduct police duties on behalf of Clarion, Indiana, or Mansfield Borough, they cannot conduct police duties for the universities from which they have graduated, unless and until they receive the governor’s commission.

Placing the State System’s police departments and campus police officers under the auspices of MPOETC for police certification, commission, and training would put them on par with state-related institutions, provide for continuity of process as well as training and record-keeping regarding officers, and make applicable recent and future law enforcement reforms, e.g., Acts 57 and 59 of 2020, providing for background checks and mental health evaluations, respectively.

Events across the United States have added urgency. Today, because State System campus police officers are not MPOETC-certified, it is not legal for them to wear body cameras. Placing them under MPOETC would authorize them to wear body cameras, further increasing campus police accountability and public trust.

So that we may make our campus communities safer, our State System campus police departments more efficient, and provide State System campus police the same benefits of training and certification that all other municipal officers receive, we believe it is critical to amend Title 53 to include State System university campus police officers under the auspices of MPOETC, ensuring State System campus police officers are MPOETC-certified and ready to serve.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1988