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05/14/2021 12:07 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20210&cosponId=35180
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 24, 2021 01:33 PM
From: Senator John T. Yudichak
To: All Senate members
Subject: Evading Arrest or Detention by Foot
 
In the near future, I intend to reintroduce legislation drafted in response to the tragic death of Officer John Wilding of the Scranton Police Department.  In July 2015, Officer Wilding fell to his death while chasing three teenagers suspected of armed robbery.

A thorough review of our existing statutes demonstrated that we currently prohibit fleeing from an officer in a vehicle and struggling with an officer attempting to place an individual under lawful arrest; however, our statutes are silent with respect to fleeing an officer on foot and placing the officers or innocent bystanders at risk of injury.

This bill will create a new offense of “Evading Arrest or Detention by Foot.” This legislation is modeled after a similar statute in the state of Texas. When individuals flee from police officers attempting to lawfully place them under arrest, they create a risk of harm not just to police but to innocent bystanders and themselves. This bill will attempt to address that.

Last session, this bill unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee as SB 1085 of 2019-20. After receiving feedback from advocates and officers around the state, language has been included to further provide for the protection of police animals in the event an individual is evading arrest. The new language would create a separate offense for injuring a police animal while a person is evading arrest. Officer Wilding had been pursuing a position in the Scranton Police Department as a K9 officer and this change will further assist in the protection of the animals that serve our communities.

Officer Wilding was a respected member of the community and a rising star in Scranton’s police force. His life was cut tragically short and it highlighted the need for additional protections needed by our brave policemen and women pursuing suspects on foot. We need to ensure that the dangers posed by individuals fleeing on foot are addressed by state law for the safety of our officers and innocent bystanders.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. This legislation was previously offered by Senator Blake. Previous co-sponsors included: Sens. Aument, Brewster, Baker, Browne and Regan.