New law gives campus police more power

MILLERSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – A new law signed by Governor Tom Wolf will soon give police at state-owned universities more power.

The law gives the departments jurisdictions on roads that run through campuses.

“I felt that it made a lot of common sense,” Millersville University Police Chief Pete Anders told ABC 27 News. “It’s really a big decision for the community and also for the university.”

Police at Millersville and the 13 other state-owned universities have always had police powers at places like dorms and campus buildings. Before the new law, Act 41, police at state-owned universities had no authority to file charges for crimes or violations on roads which run through campus.

“It is a force multiplier,” Anders said. “There are more eyes on the roadways as it comes through here that have the ability to stop somebody that’s driving recklessly.”

A state Superior Court ruling involving a DUI case at Slippery Rock University prohibited police from filing charges on streets running through campuses. As a result, more than a dozen DUI cases around Millersville University had to be tossed out.

“You have to have jurisdiction to file a charge and that was missing in these few cases,” said Brett Hambright, a spokesman for the Lancaster County district attorney’s office. “With this, Act 41, everything is chargeable.”

Anders told ABC 27 News the law will help his department keep the campus safer because it will allow more patrols on the roads.

“It’s an absolute concern for us to make sure that we’re keeping traffic and pedestrians controlled and calm,” he said.

The new law goes into effect November 30.

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