HARRISBURG (May 14, 2015) – By a vote of 47 to 0, the Senate approved a bill yesterday to improve public safety on college campuses.
Senate Bill 678, introduced by state Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), clarifies the zones in which campus police officers employed by the 14 state-owned universities have arrest powers.
“This bill closes a loophole in current law, which arose after a court decision limited the jurisdiction of campus police,” Smucker said. “Thanks to the support of college, local government and law enforcement officials, the legislation will clearly spell out the jurisdiction of campus police officers so that arrest powers along all sections of college grounds are clearly defined.”
In an October 2014 court case, the Superior Court determined that a road running through a university campus was not technically “campus grounds.” As a result, a drunk driving conviction was overturned.
“Campus police officers must have the ability to act on violations of the law on their own grounds,” Smucker stated. “The court decision essentially created an arrest-free zone on campus roads, which has the potential to reduce the level of safety for students, employees and visitors on college campuses and in the surrounding town.”
Senate Bill 678 amends the Public School Code to ensure that campus police officers employed by the state-owned universities have the power to make arrests on the highways, roadways and traffic ways that traverse or abut lands and buildings owned, controlled, leased or managed by the universities of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE). These duties are already possessed by municipal police officers and state-related university police officers.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
The 14 SSHE universities include Millersville, along with Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities.
CONTACT: Diane McNaughton