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Impact of New PA Law on Campus Police Arrests

Posted on October 19th, 2015

New Bill allows State Campus University Police Extended powers

As most of you may know West Chester is home to our beloved West Chester University Fighting Rams.  Go RAMS!!!  We here at Ciccarelli Law firm want the local families and students to be up to date on the new laws regarding Campus Police jurisdiction.

Act 41 is a new law that some say clarifies, but in reality expands, the policing powers of the Several State Colleges and Universitys’ Police.  The bill was originally called Senate Bill 678, and was introduced by Sen. Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster County in April.  Now it is referred to as Act 41 since Gov. Tom Wolf signed it into law last week.  This Act clarifies where campus police officers of the 14 state-owned universities, including West Chester University, and Millersville University, have arrest powers.

Since the Law went on the Books in the beginning of October it has left many schools examining the Act trying to determine where their policing power ends.  This could influence several Local universities including, Millersville University, Bloomsburg University, East Stroudsburg University, Kutztown University, and West Chester University

The new law gives campus police officers employed by the State System of Higher Education arrest powers on highways, traffic ways, bike paths and pedestrian walkways that traverse or abut lands and buildings on property owned, leased or managed by the universities.

The new legislation was created with the hope of limiting a 2014 Pennsylvania Superior Court case, Commonwealth v. Boyles, in which the Pennsylvania Superior Court determined that campus police did not have jurisdiction on a road passing through a university campus.  The court found that University police officer did not have authority to conduct traffic stops of vehicles he observed committing a Motor Vehicle Code violation on a public road abutted on both sides by campus grounds.  The decided this because, (1) the University did not own or maintain the road where the traffic stop occurred, (2) officer admitted his jurisdiction was limited to “campus property,”, and (3) the officer stated that he was not acting in cooperative agreement with municipal police at the time he conducted the traffic stop.  As a result, a DUI conviction was overturned.

Typically Campus Police Officers at the Local Public Universities are certified in the same manner as state and local law enforcement.    Lloyd Smucker, the sponsor of this bill, was quoted as saying, “Campus police receive the same training as municipal police officers and have been exercising these powers and responsibilities for decades. They are highly trained and have a long history of working cooperatively with local police forces from surrounding areas in a common effort to keep everyone safe.”

It is also important to note that the extra powers given to Campus Police through the law are already possessed by Local and State police officers.

Allow Ciccarelli Law Offices to represent you today and use Ciccarelli Law Team’s experience in Delaware, Chester, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties to get you the outcome you deserve.  With swift action and the right representation you can ensure that your rights will be protected too.  Reach us today at (610) 692-8700.