An amended version of House Bill 466, which was authored by Rep. Jim Marshall, R-14th, and co-sponsored by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, and state Rep. R. Lee James, R-64th, was approved State Government Committee Tuesday.
Sheriffs and deputies, according to the language of the proposed bill, “may exercise the same powers as municipal police officers to make arrests, without warrants, for all crimes and offenses,” while acting within the scope of their court-related duties, provided that they have completed “the same type of training” as municipal police.
Sheriffs and deputies currently deal with civil enforcement, executing arrest warrants, transporting prisoners, courthouse security and issuing concealed carry permits.
“We need to do everything we can to protect the safety and well-being of Pennsylvanians,” Marshall said in a news release. “This legislation would help clear up confusion and allow trained deputies and sheriffs to provide some additional protection in their county communities.”
Butler County Sheriff Mike Slupe, who was president of the Pennsylvania Sheriffs Association last year, said he has been working with legislators on various versions of this bill for several years. It has never been voted on by the House.
While they do have the authority to arrest a wanted person or detain a person suspected of criminal activity, they must request other law enforcement to respond.
“If there are drugs on the table,” he said about a warrant attempt, “That should be investigated. For that part, we would need the police officer to respond and obtain a search warrant. If the bill would pass, we could get our own search warrant.” Sheriff deputies in Butler County are trained and certified through two programs: Act 120, also called Municipal Police Academy, and Act 1984-2, which is training for sheriffs and sheriff deputies.