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Comments on PA State Police Being ‘Overworked’

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October 1, 2008

Herald Standard Newspaper

Letters to the Editor

8 – 18 East Church Street

Uniontown, PA 15401

letters@heraldstandard.com

 Mr. Editor:

 I would like to address an editorial, “State Police Overworked in Many Areas”, dated September 26, 2008.

 According to the editorial, Westmoreland County State Representative John Pallone has proposed that the citizens of municipalities of 10,000 residents or more and no local police force pay a $100 per head tax to defray the costs of State Police service in their municipalities.

 This absolutely should not be done. If anything along these lines (taxes) should be done, it is the residents of municipalities that do have a local police force should be able to claim a tax credit on their state income tax as they are currently subsidizing the State Police service to the municipalities that do not have local police while paying for their own police service.

 However, the best way to address this situation is for the Legislature to mandate that all municipalities provide local police services. If a municipality truly cannot afford to have their own police force, they can join with adjacent municipalities to form a regional police department. This is currently being done in many areas of the Commonwealth and there are many assistance programs available through Harrisburg to do it.

 The editorial also says that the State Police force is currently 300 Troopers short of the compliment allowed by law. Obviously, this should be rectified immediately by abolishing many of the feel good social programs that are run simply to buy votes.

 Finally, the editorial asks the question “Should County Sheriff’s Departments be given more authority”? As I pointed out in my guest column “Fayette already has police force mechanisms” of April 8, 2008, Pennsylvania’s Sheriffs already have all the authority they need to make an arrest for any crime on the books in the Commonwealth. Whether or not they make those arrests are solely at the discretion of the Sheriff of each county, there is no question of authority.

 Our courts have declared Sheriffs and their Deputies to be peace officers fully empowered to make warrantless arrests for breaches of the peace committed in their presence.

 And, in the cases of Commonwealth v. Leet, 537 PA 89 (1994) & Commonwealth D.O.T. v. Kline, 559 PA 646 (1999) they were declared to have the authority to enforce the PA Motor Vehicle Code (75 Pa. CSA et seq.) with proper training.

 We also must remember that elected Constables and their Deputies have also been declared by our Supreme Court, in the case of In Re Act 147 of 1990, 528 PA 460, 463 (1991), to be peace officers charged with “conservation of the peace, and whose business it is to arrest those who have violated it.”

 The arrest power of Constables is defined generally by Title 13 of the PA Consolidated Statutes (13 P.S. 45) which states: “Constables of the Commonwealth, in addition to the powers already conferred upon them shall  and may, without warrant and upon view, arrest and commit for hearing any and all persons guilty of a breach of the peace, vagrancy, riotous and disorderly conduct or drunkenness, or who may be engaged in the commission of an unlawful act tending to imperil the personal security or endanger the property of the citizens, or  violating municipal ordinances, for the violation of which a fine or penalty is imposed. Any person arrested, with or without warrant, shall be entitled to a trial.”

 In 1992 our Superior Court, in the case of Commonwealth v. Frombach, 420 Pa. Super. 498, determined that our Legislature, by 13 P.S. 45 (above), “Conferred on Constables the power to, without warrant and upon view, arrest and commit for hearing any and all persons guilty of a breach of the peace.”

  In addition, the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Jurisdiction Act, title 42 of the PA Consolidated Statutes Annotated 8953 (a), which authorizes municipal police officers in our Commonwealth to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth beyond the territorial limits of their jurisdictions.

 In the case of Commonwealth v. Roberts, 356 Pa. Super. 309 (1986), the court held that the Legislature has clearly authorized duly employed municipal police officers to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth beyond the territorial limits of their jurisdictions.

 In addition, in the case of Commonwealth v. Triplett, 387 Pa. Super 378 (1989), the court held that municipal police officers can enforce the laws of the Commonwealth in another municipal jurisdiction as if they were acting in their own jurisdiction when they are called into such other jurisdiction to aid another law enforcement agency.

 In short, there is absolutely no need to assess additional taxes on anyone to accomplish what Representative Pallone is aiming for. All we need to do is use the tools that are already in place.

Sincerely,

Brian K. Lutes

PO Box 1362, 56 Summit View • Uniontown, PA • 15401

Phone: 724-439-1362 • e-mail: bkl15401@yahoo.com

 

 
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Written by bkl1

February 9, 2011 at 10:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized