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  • Are PSP and Police Departments scared of sheriffs?

    PSP and the FOP are Lobbying against a House bill in PA to keep the duties of Sheriffs restricted. Why? (Alleghany County Excluded Already have the authority)

    PSP has no buisness in County Law Enforcement, they are using their Political pull to bully other agencies around. The FOP may have a right to be scared! The local PD could be of the past if Sheriffs start patrols and investigations. However, those officers could be put into the new system.

    One thing being serously overlooked is the Constable! Constables are covered by original Statutes with arrest authority and has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Given the status of indipendent contractor they would be able to go get act 120 and contract independently by towns to enforce the law. The Supreme Court also said now a traffic offense is a breach of peace.

    As an independent Law Enforcement Officer they could hammer out all aspects of Enforcement, Investigation, patrol and traffic as they could create their own job descritption with the Town.

    This is one State that is so "Individual Power Happy" it creates to many problems and doesn't help the goal "law Enforcement" its a shame.
    Last edited by timtim; 10-18-2008, 11:58 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by timtim View Post
    PSP and the FOP are Lobbying against a House bill in PA to keep the duties of Sheriffs restricted. Why? (Alleghany County Excluded Already have the authority)

    PSP has no buisness in County Law Enforcement, they are using their Political pull to bully other agencies around. The FOP may have a right to be scared! The local PD could be of the past if Sheriffs start patrols and investigations. However, those officers could be put into the new system.

    One thing being serously overlooked is the Constable! Constables are covered by original Statutes with arrest authority and has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Given the status of indipendent contractor they would be able to go get act 120 and contract independently by towns to enforce the law. The Supreme Court also said now a traffic offense is a breach of peace.

    As an independent Law Enforcement Officer they could hammer out all aspects of Enforcement, Investigation, patrol and traffic as they could create their own job descritption with the Town.

    This is one State that is so Power happy it creates to much problems and doesn't help the goal "law Enforcement" its a shame.

    If this bill would have come up 40 years ago, I believe that Sheriff Departments would have had a much better chance of taking over a county full time. But to try to do it in 2008 would just crush most counties strictly from the cost of start up. The county I work in has 18 full and part time deputies, it will kill them to try and even come near a compliment equal to my barracks (70+ Troopers.) Factor in vehicles (we have nearly 40), a new building to hold all of them, equipment to outfit all of them, cost of training, and their salaries to make those positions on par with every other sheriff dept within the state as to avoid turnover, and your looking at a costly sum to just start up full time patrol and criminal investigations.

    Now, throw in on top of that the resources that PSP offers, aviation, vice, SERT, labs, training opportunities, etc, and very few counties are able to afford it, unless a couple of counties "regionalized." But I think even then it would be cost prohibitive.

    Now, my opinion, of why they don't start doing it on a limited basis, is there is no continuity for ongoing investigations. Are sheriff departments that are going to do this do, (on a limited basis), only do it from 8-4? Example--a burglary is reported at 3 p.m., sheriffs department goes out and does that investigation and leaves. Now, neighbors come home at 5 p.m. and discover their homes burglarized also. The initial investigation started with the sheriffs, do you tell them they have to wait until the next day (or over the weekend) until the sheriffs dept comes back to work? We all know how information sharing goes between departments.

    As for constables, how can you call them independent? They are an elected official that can have their jobs held over their heads due to their political nature. And the same problems are involved with constables as there are with sheriff departments. I believe that their can only be one elected constable per township, so are we to expect a constable to work 24 hours a day? How do you go about paying a constable for patrol and criminal investigation. They are currently paid thru a district court based on the work they do (warrants served, etc.) Creating their own job description sounds like a slippery slope. Who picks up for the stuff they don't want to do?

    I would really like to know why you feel the way you do about PSP. Whether it was a run in with a bad Trooper, the policies of the local barracks, or just a general dislike for us. Just wondering, it doesn't make a difference to me.
    Last edited by PaRoadDawg; 10-18-2008, 02:11 PM. Reason: Grammer

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    • #3
      Originally posted by PaRoadDawg View Post
      If this bill would have come up 40 years ago, I believe that Sheriff Departments would have had a much better chance of taking over a county full time. But to try to do it in 2008 would just crush most counties strictly from the cost of start up. The county I work in has 18 full and part time deputies, it will kill them to try and even come near a compliment equal to my barracks (70+ Troopers.) Factor in vehicles (we have nearly 40), a new building to hold all of them, equipment to outfit all of them, cost of training, and their salaries to make those positions on par with every other sheriff dept within the state as to avoid turnover, and your looking at a costly sum to just start up full time patrol and criminal investigations.

      Now, throw in on top of that the resources that PSP offers, aviation, vice, SERT, labs, training opportunities, etc, and very few counties are able to afford it, unless a couple of counties "regionalized." But I think even then it would be cost prohibitive.

      Now, my opinion, of why they don't start doing it on a limited basis, is there is no continuity for ongoing investigations. Are sheriff departments that are going to do this do, (on a limited basis), only do it from 8-4? Example--a burglary is reported at 3 p.m., sheriffs department goes out and does that investigation and leaves. Now, neighbors come home at 5 p.m. and discover their homes burglarized also. The initial investigation started with the sheriffs, do you tell them they have to wait until the next day (or over the weekend) until the sheriffs dept comes back to work? We all know how information sharing goes between departments.

      As for constables, how can you call them independent? They are an elected official that can have their jobs held over their heads due to their political nature. And the same problems are involved with constables as there are with sheriff departments. I believe that their can only be one elected constable per township, so are we to expect a constable to work 24 hours a day? How do you go about paying a constable for patrol and criminal investigation. They are currently paid thru a district court based on the work they do (warrants served, etc.) Creating their own job description sounds like a slippery slope. Who picks up for the stuff they don't want to do?

      I would really like to know why you feel the way you do about PSP. Whether it was a run in with a bad Trooper, the policies of the local barracks, or just a general dislike for us. Just wondering, it doesn't make a difference to me.
      I never had an issue with PSP, in fact several of my friends are Troopers J,k and h barracks. My problem is to lobby against one not gaining authority is unheard of. I never thought bad of PSP til I read they are lobbying against. I'm not a Sheriffs Deputy or in State, local Law Enforcement. I work Federal Law Enforcement.

      As for Constables they just merley conformed but there is nothing stopping them from contracting out and Deputizing. The only problem would be they need to be certified by the State. The Courts ruled anyone employed in Law Enforcement Constables and Sheriffs could perform the duties if equivalently trained. Constables can arrest for breach of peace but need to tot to a PD because they lack the access to paperwork. Investigation is the hold back for Sheriffs and Traffic for the Constable.



      I just simply believe everyone could use the help they can get.

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      • #4
        Its all about jobs. There are plenty of sheriff departments across the country that do the same jobs as municipal and state officers.

        We should be like Florida and California, we should have large sheriff departments and get rid of some of these small town departments. We should also limit the state police to just highway work like the do with the Florida and California Highway Patrol.

        If they could do it why can't we?

        Ask a cop from most state, and they have never heard of a sheriff not being the same as any other police officer.

        Think of it. You have a Trooper from Erie that wants to be stationed in Harrisburg and is patrolling in Delaware County's backwoods, while Delaware County Deputy Sheriffs who live there and are part of the community can't even write a speeding ticket. Amazing!
        Last edited by Spartan75; 10-18-2008, 06:59 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Spartan75 View Post
          Its all about jobs. There are plenty of sheriff departments across the country that do the same jobs as municipal and state officers.

          We should be like Florida and California, we should have large sheriff departments and get rid of some of these small town departments. We should also limit the state police to just highway work like the do with the Florida and California Highway Patrol.

          If they could do it why can't we?

          Ask a cop from most state, and they have never heard of a sheriff not being the same as any other police officer.

          Think of it. You have a Trooper from Erie that wants to be stationed in Harrisburg and is patrolling in Delaware County's backwoods, while Delaware County Deputy Sheriffs who live there and are part of the community can't even write a speeding ticket. Amazing!

          I have friends who actually are cops where they have state highway patrol like you speak of, and it isn't always the perfect situation there either. Limit PSP to highway and the citizens of PA are in big trouble and that is coming from city cops in PA as well as cops that did live in PA and now live where there is a highway patrol.

          As a PA a citizen, I'm VERY glad we have PSP and they are as great as they are. I have experienced a situation where the town cops weren't able to handle a situation (under staff, not ability) and if it wasn't or PSP, well lets just say it would have been ugly. I'm not saying sheriff departments shouldn't have rights. I'm just saying, PSP shouldn't give up some of what they do. Maybe CHP works, but this isn't CA or any other highway patrol state, we are PA with the first and one of the FINEST state police agencies in the nation!!!!

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          • #6
            We shouldnt limit the PSP however in many ways they are not needed in the Philadelphia area for highway enforcement. If Fast Eddie were smart, he would pay Philly to put highway units back on 95 and 76 full time.

            The problems with sheriff's are 2 fold. You have some sheriff's who do not want any LE function (such as Bucks and Philly) and others who are balls to the wall in wanting to answer calls etc. 10 years age sheriff Welsh of Chester county announced that she would begin forming a patrol divsion that would handle calls within the county in areas that had PSP enforcement. Well if one remembers, the PSP union whined to the county board and it ended up staying with the PSP. There is no reason why any SO can not be certified by MPO to handle calls, traffic enforcement etc. If the PSP union is against this as being a job action, I can understand but the PSP is lacking the manpower so there should be no reason why they can not have concurrent jurisdiction in the municpalities. In Maryland in some of the Eastern shore and Western counties it is not uncommon to have a sheriff's deputy and state trooper assigned a call jointly.

            As far as the start up costs, I do agree with PAroaddawg. I would not want to see an increase in anyone's taxes. However if a municpality is willing to front a contract to the SO, then the SO can set up a contract with the PSP for say lab costs etc, then I do not see a problem.

            Limit PSP to highway and the citizens of PA are in big trouble and that is coming from city cops in PA as well as cops that did live in PA and now live where there is a highway patrol.
            I started my career in Florida and we have the FHP. The FHP is very low paid compared to many others but they have their function which is traffic. However, you are wrong in some respects. In Florida, we do not have townships or boroughs like PA. All of PA is incorporated into townships etc. So in essence a municpality either must have its own pd or has to contract to the PSP. Also the PSP is contracted by the PA turnpike commission who pays for troopers salary and benefits to the PSP. Same as in NJ for the garden state parkway and AC Expressway.
            I don't answer recruitment messages....

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            • #7
              Sheriffs are LE in NJ, but don't patrol, nor respond to calls except for 1 or 2 counties. Most work the courts, jails and do transports.
              Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by orlandofed5-0 View Post



                I started my career in Florida and we have the FHP. The FHP is very low paid compared to many others but they have their function which is traffic. However, you are wrong in some respects. In Florida, we do not have townships or boroughs like PA. All of PA is incorporated into townships etc. So in essence a municpality either must have its own pd or has to contract to the PSP. Also the PSP is contracted by the PA turnpike commission who pays for troopers salary and benefits to the PSP. Same as in NJ for the garden state parkway and AC Expressway.
                Just wanted to make sure I didn't offend anyone.... I think HP has their place and they are great. I wasn't downplaying anyone or their role. I just meant I live in a rural area so I know a lot of cops have said w/out PSP we would be in trouble b/c they don't have full time departments. So if PSP was only HP, it could stink for us rural people - unless there were more city cops. I'm sorry if anyone took what I said the wrong way. I think ANYONE that dedicates their lives to serving others as all law enforment people do, PSP, City, sheriff, whatever....is amazing and I greatly appreciate their service.

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                • #9
                  Alright, lets go this way, why push to restrict their authority. Forget adding patrols or response, they stick with their normal functions. Howerver, when PSP and Locals have a serious problem why not beable to call someone to help with same authority?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by eEb1129 View Post
                    Just wanted to make sure I didn't offend anyone.... I think HP has their place and they are great. I wasn't downplaying anyone or their role. I just meant I live in a rural area so I know a lot of cops have said w/out PSP we would be in trouble b/c they don't have full time departments. So if PSP was only HP, it could stink for us rural people - unless there were more city cops. I'm sorry if anyone took what I said the wrong way. I think ANYONE that dedicates their lives to serving others as all law enforment people do, PSP, City, sheriff, whatever....is amazing and I greatly appreciate their service.

                    Agreed but in many respects, but the PSP could supplement the SO's in many of the counties. Areas like Tioga county where Philly people are moving can benefit from having more than 3 sheriff's deputies and a sheriff.
                    I don't answer recruitment messages....

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                    • #11
                      No one is scared of the sheriffs. The sheriffs around here can barely handle court duty, prisoner transport, serving PFA's, etc. There is no way they could handle providing law enforcement duties to a town.

                      Oh sure, they will say they can because they want to be able to do it. The sheriff's duties are what they are. The solution is to have the municipal depts regionalize, however that will never happen because the people who run the towns fear loosing their "control" over their police dept. Even though you ask them what control it is they think they have and they cannot answer.
                      Steve

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                      • #12
                        As someone who has seen this before, I can tell you the battle here is based on four issues, accountability, money, jobs and power.

                        The first issue is accountability - what agency will have exclusive responsibility for providing general law enforcement services to a given area? You can't have multiple agencies sharing coverage, because if something goes wrong and the matter is improperly handled, you can't hold any one agency accountable - each will point the finger of blame at the other. Similarly, if there is more than one agency, they may fight over a case, or work at odds with each other, needlessly duplicating efforts or interfering with each other's investigation into the matter As a result, there can only be one agency for a particular jurisdiction. Other agencies can provide mutual aid if requested, but the agency of primary jurisdiction will still be held responsible.

                        Once you identify a primary law enforcement agency, the other government agencies that had been funding and providing police services until now must stop doing so, except when requested under mutual aid. That's a given. It is no longer their responsibility. Were they to continue to provide routine police services, they would be interfering with the agency of primary jurisdiction and they would be expending great amounts of financial and personnel resources on something that is no longer their responsibility. This is called making a gift of public finds and is prohibited by most state constitutions.

                        The next issue is funding. Obviously, it would be necessary for each sheriff's department to grow in size, training, expertise and equipment to provide the proper level of 24 hour a day, full service coverage. Where will the counties get the money to finance the newly expanded sheriff's departments? While the PSP may have its budget reduced because it no longer needs to provide rural police services, the state is not going to want to give that money up - there is no legislative authority to do so.. It will want to redirect it to other state programs. So will you raise county taxes to fund the sheriffs? Will the taxpayers go for it or will the sheriff have all the responsibility and authority, but no funding to carry out his new duties?

                        OK, what does all that mean? I'm not going to get into who can provide a better level of police services in your state. Instead, let's just look at the mechanics of a transition from PSP to the sheriff.

                        Let's assume the sheriff is made responsible for providing routine police services to unincorporated areas of the county. As a result of the change, PSP and local PDs would only need to respond to mutual aid calls (back up, officer needs assistance, etc.) Because much of the PSP staffing currently exists to provide police services to unincorporated county areas, they would now be overstaffed. This would result in a reduction in personnel and a corresponding reduction in their budget. (The state will no longer pay for providing huge sums of money to provide a service that is now a county responsibility.) This translates to a loss of lots of PSP jobs (layoffs) and a loss of dues paying union members. In turn, this limits the size, lobbying and negotiating power of the union. If you think the union representing the PSP will roll over and take that, you're kidding yourself. Similarly, the unions that represent local PDs feel that if the sheriff's departments can do this to an agency as big as he PSP, then smaller PDs will be next on the hit list and their jobs will be at risk as well. Obviously, they won;t support it either, just out of self preservation.

                        In short, this legislation is no doubt perceived as a power grab that threatening the existing jobs of too many other cops in your state. It is poorly thought out and unfunded. My best bet is that it's a piece of legislation authored as a favor to someone, but with the knowledge that it will really go nowhere. We get these all the time in California. Sadly they get a few hopes up, but then get tabled as two year legislation and eventually die on the vine for lack of action on the part of the legislature.
                        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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                        • #13
                          Rather than mandating patrol duties to the sheriff for townships, boroughs etc., maybe the SO can just get mandated to patrolling county properties. In several counties you have various park police who could be the patrol division of the SO. In Delaware county, you have the county park and courthouse police, whom I see as a major waste since the Delaware county SO is already in place there.
                          I don't answer recruitment messages....

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                          • #14
                            I would actually be curious to see which Sheriff's within PA are pushing for this. My wife is a deputy sheriff in the county we live in, and her Sheriff and the rest of her department want nothing to do with taking over patrol and criminal investigations within this county.

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                            • #15
                              I think at the minimum that deputy sheriffs should be given the same powers as a municipal officer. Even in states where sheriffs don’t patrol (like NJ for the most part) there deputies are certified the same as police officers.

                              As far as raising taxes to expand sheriff departments, that will have to be figured out. It is not unprecedented. There are 3,000 some sheriff departments in the country, and a large part have patrol services, so it not like this has never been done before.

                              I would imagine the PSP would lose jobs. However, it would take years for counties that want to do patrol to come fully online. In the meantime the PSP would limit the numbers of new recruits it takes in. While this would mean fewer jobs overall, it would mean no one gets canned.

                              As far as the sheriffs not wanting to do this, in the end it is not up to them. If the people in the county want it strong enough, then they will just boot the sheriff out in the next election. At that point if the deputies don’t like it, they can leave or get with the program.

                              However, I believe that any sheriff today would like to have his deputies have the same powers as Act 120 officers, even if he/she has no plans to patrol.

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