HARRISBURG – Off-duty police officers who serve on Special Emergency Response Teams (SERTs) could respond to incidents quicker and more safely under legislation unanimously approved by the Senate today.
Senate Bill 1015, sponsored by Senators Scott Martin (R-13) and Ryan Aument (R-36), would allow SERT officers to use flashing lights and sirens when using their private vehicles to respond to incidents.
Local officials estimate that the use of lights and sirens on personal vehicles could save 10 to 15 minutes in assembling a SERT team for incidents requiring special training, such as kidnappings, barricaded gunmen and hostage negotiations.
“A delay of even a few minutes can make it much more difficult to resolve a difficult and sensitive situation without a tragic loss of life,” Martin said. “SERT officers already face significant dangers in performing their jobs, so it is critical for lawmakers to do our part to make sure they can respond to incidents as quickly and safely as possible.”
The legislation mirrors a bill from the previous legislative session that was sponsored by Aument and passed the Senate unanimously.
“Many SERT officers do not have access to police vehicles when they are off-duty, so the need to respond to incidents quickly creates a dangerous environment before they even set foot on the scene,” Aument said. “This measure will help ensure officers who have the specialized training to diffuse dangerous situations can assemble in a timely manner and get to work in protecting victims and innocent bystanders.”
Lancaster County SERT has approximately 40 members from 16 different police departments. The team has responded to an average of approximately one incident per month over the past six years.
Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Senator Martin)
Jake Smeltz (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument)