SRU Police Chief Simmons applauds new jurisdiction law

officer sharkey and student

Photo by Nikita Falen, communication, emerging technology and public relation major from Ellwood City.

Feb. 17, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Michael Simmons, Slippery Rock University police chief, said campus is more secure following the passing of Act 41, a state law that gives University Police authority to make DUI and other arrests on roads and walkways that pass through or abut campus property. Kiester, Harmony and Branchton roads are included in the new provision.

"This gives us greater ability to enforce the law and protect the University community," Simmons said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed Act 41, which clarifies jurisdiction for SRU Police and the 13 other Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institution police departments.

According to Act 41, the law gives police arrest powers on all "grounds" owned by the 14 institutions. That includes lands and buildings owned, controlled, leased or managed by the system and all highways, traffic ways, bicycle and pedestrian facilities that traverse or abut such lands and buildings.

The legislation, introduced as Senate Bill 678, stemmed from a 2014 court case involving a DUI arrest at SRU. The state Superior Court determined that campus police did not have jurisdiction on a road passing through campus. As a result, the DUI conviction was overturned.

michael simmons

   SIMMONS

Simmons said Act 41 eliminates gray areas under the law. He said police had assumed jurisdiction was not an issue on roads abutting campus until the DUI case was overturned.

He said the majority of violations on side roads are driving under the influence.

"Safety is always our top priority," Simmons said. "We strive to keep our students, faculty, staff and visitors safe. That safety depends in large part on everyone who is on our campus. We urge everyone to be aware of their surroundings and to report, and avoid any suspicious activity they may see and to call our office with concerns."

SRU has several roads and walkways on the edge of campus, including a walking trail that parallels Harmony Road by the intramural fields.

SRU has been recognized as a safe campus. University Primetime has cited the University as the 34th safest campus in its America.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu