Jan. 03, 2023

HARRISBURG – A new state law that will make it easier for State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities to hire campus police officers was authored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford), but it wasn’t his idea.

Recently, Owlett presented a signed copy of the legislation to Scott Henry, former director of the Police and Public Safety Training Institute at Mansfield University, who came up with the idea to address a significant hurdle faced by Mansfield and other State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions.

“I commend Scott for taking the initiative to not only raise his concerns but to share a potential solution,” Owlett said. “I was able to jointly introduce his idea with other legislators representing state system schools, and that allowed us to generate the support we needed to get the idea across the finish line and signed into law.”

Act 121 of 2022 places campus police departments and campus police officers at PASSHE schools under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers’ Education Training and Commission (MPOETC) for police certification, commission and training. The change allows a campus officer to be immediately employed by a state system campus police force rather than having to go through a potentially months-long process of obtaining a commission from the governor via the state Department of Education.

Officers who complete MPOETC training were eligible to be immediately employed by municipal police departments and state-related university campuses; only those who wished to work on state system campuses were required to go through the extra step of obtaining a commission from the state. This was putting state system campuses at a disadvantage when recruiting officers.

The law ensures recent and future reforms to laws impacting law enforcement apply automatically to campus police officers. It authorizes state system campus police officers to wear body cameras, further increasing campus police accountability and public trust.

Finally, the law permits school police officers, who were previously certified by MPOETC, to maintain their certification. Previously, MPOETC certification expired two years from the date of issuance and, because school districts do not fall within the definition of a “law enforcement agency,” MPOETC could not recertify school police officers. Accordingly, MPOETC-certified school police officers lost their certification after they worked for a school for over two years.

Representative Clint Owlett
68th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia Hippler
Owlett: Local Idea to Boost Campus Security Becomes Law
Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford) presents a signed copy of a new state law to Scott Henry, former director of the Police and Public Safety Training Institute at Mansfield University. Henry came up with the idea to improve the hiring process of campus security officers at state system universities, thereby improving campus safety for students and faculty alike.