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More Training for School Police Officers

Earlier this year, Governor Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 621, which, among other things, redefined the powers, duties, and training requirements of school police officers (“SPOs”). Effective August 1, 2019, the new training requirements went into effect.

This redefinition of the SPO role essentially created four different “types:”

  • Type 1 SPOs may enforce good order in school buildings, on school buses, and on school grounds;
  • Type 2 SPOs are Type 1 SPOs who can carry a firearm;
  • Type 3 SPOs are Type 1 SPOs who can issue summary citations or detain individuals; and
  • Type 4 SPOs can do everything a Type 1, 2 and 3 SPO can do.

The new training requirements are dependent upon which “type” of SPO a School District has appointed. Type 1 SPOs are only required to attend an annual in-service training approved by the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (“MPOETC”).  SPO Types 2, 3, and 4 have extensive training requirements. The law requires that these SPOs must:

  1. Successfully complete basic training as required by the MPOETC;
  2. Successfully complete the Basic School Resource Officer Course of Instruction offered by the National Association of School Resource Officers; and
  3. Attend an annual in-service training approved by the MPOETC.

The annual in-service training requires an SPO to complete 12 credits of training each calendar year. To gain access to the system that has the training videos for the annual in-service training, an SPO will email their court appointment paperwork, including oath of office, and proof of current employment as an SPO, to the MPOETC. Most notable about this new annual in-service training is its lack of tracking. The Pennsylvania Department of Education recommends that questions regarding the annual in-service training and the tracking of the training be sent to the MPOETC. However, the MPOETC has indicated that it will not track SPO training. Due to the uncertainty of whether or not PDE or the MPOETC will track the required trainings, Districts are advised to keep track of the credits completed by their SPOs to ensure they are remaining compliant with law.

As always, the School Law Attorneys at Stock and Leader monitor developments in all areas of school law and are happy to provide guidance to ensure that your School District remains compliant.

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