HARRISBURG — Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-89, says legislation that is awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature makes it possible for the area’s police agencies to continue to work together on joint enforcement projects.
That’s a good thing, Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal, the county’s top law enforcement official, said in response to news that Kauffman-sponsored House Bill 1614 has passed both chambers of the state legislature and is awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature.
“In Franklin County, literally all law enforcement agencies are united by the creed of ‘One Team, One Fight’ and this bill allows for us to continue to work together efficiently, for the good of the public we serve.”Matt Fogal – Franklin County District Attorney
The bill will remedy a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in Commonwealth v. Hlubin that would render joint task force operations between local police and state and federal law enforcement entities illegal.
Kauffman said he sponsored the legislation because many of the task forces operating within the Commonwealth are comprised of police officers from multiple jurisdictions to investigate criminal acts, which the court determined to be counter to language in the Municipal Police Jurisdiction Act.
Working to Ensure Better Public Safety
Since the early 1980s local police have acted together with the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania attorney general, district attorneys or federal law enforcement. They formed task forces to address various kinds of criminal activity, such as DUI checkpoints, human trafficking, and anti-terrorism efforts.
Kauffman said House Bill 1614 ensures those joint efforts can continue.
Fogal and others within the local law enforcement community say they favor the legislation and appreciate the efforts of the state
House and senate in getting the bill to the governor quickly.
“I truly appreciate this responsive, swift effort to ensure that our law enforcement operations are not negatively impacted.”Matt Fogal – Franklin County District Attorney
House Bill 1614 would not eliminate local authorities from the decision-making process over law enforcement deployment; it would simply allow a municipality the ability to enter into an intergovernmental agreement that would allow local police to act quickly when prompt joint action is necessary and desirable.
Chambersburg Police Department’s Chief of Police Ron Camacho said the legislation is important because the ability of small and mid-sized police departments to share resources is of vital importance to protecting and serving the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“In today’s day and age of expensive technology and limited manpower, police departments have to have a mechanism to share both.”Ron Camacho – Chief of Police, Chambersburg Police Department
Chambersburg Mayor Walt Bietsch, a retired police sergeant, said the legislation benefits both the public and police officers that are charged its protecting local citizens.
“It is legislation that will make Pennsylvania much safer for our citizens and law enforcement.”Walt Bietsch – Chambersburg Mayor
House Bill 1614 passed both legislative chambers by a unanimous vote and is expected to be signed into law by the governor soon.