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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 1, 2022 12:10 PM
From: Representative Andrew Lewis
To: All House members
Subject: Expanded Law Enforcement Authority for Sheriffs
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that will authorize sheriff and deputy sheriffs, who have successfully completed the same training required of municipal police officers, to exercise the powers of municipal police officers to make arrests. 
While sheriffs and their deputies unquestionably provide a vital law-enforcement service to our communities, the courts in this Commonwealth have repeatedly diluted the authority once exercised by these law enforcement officers to investigate and arrest individuals who have broken the law.  As the duly elected chief law enforcement officer of the county in which she/he serves, it confounds me that sheriffs have limited authority to initiate traffic stops, investigate crimes and make arrests. 
At a time when our municipal law enforcement agencies have experienced stagnated recruitment and are tasked with the near-impossible responsibility of deterring the extreme levels of violence that plague our most populous cities, I believe it is necessary to restore the authority of our sheriffs and deputy sheriffs to enforce the rule of law. 
My legislation would grant sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, who have successfully completed a Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission academy, or a training program approved by the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff Education and Training Board, the same powers as municipal police officers to make arrests.  Our sheriffs undergo rigorous training in numerous subject areas, including law and criminal procedure, use of force, ethics, cultural diversity, firearms and patrol operations.  This training – in addition to continuing education requirements – affords our sheriffs and deputy sheriffs the skills and knowledge to faithfully enforce our laws and protect our communities. 
Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to better protect and serve our Commonwealth residents.