New PA Law Requires Training for Sheriffs

New PA Law Requires Training for Sheriffs

Under a new Pennsylvania law, sheriffs must now participate in academy training to keep their titles.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. -  Under a new Pennsylvania law, sheriffs must now participate in academy training to keep their titles.

Anyone in the state of Pennsylvania can run for sheriff without prior law enforcement experience, but Act 114 now mandates that sheriffs must complete a course after being elected.

"There's an awful lot in the civil side of law that you just don't take into account that a sheriff has to know,” said Bob Wollyung, executive director of the Sheriffs’ Association of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and former Franklin County Sheriff.

The new legislation requires sheriffs with no previous law enforcement background to attend a 20 week training academy within four years of election. Those with prior experience need to take a two week waiver course. Additionally, all sheriffs must also complete a two week refresher course every two years.

The training courses will be funded by legal document fees collected by Sheriff Offices. 

Current Franklin County Sheriff  Dane Anthony said he supports the new law.

"I think it's important for [sheriffs] to have an idea about the job before they take the job,” Anthony said.

The Sheriffs’ Association of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania said the legislation will also help gain more recognition for sheriff's offices across the state.

"Act 114 goes a long way to show people that we are in fact a professional group and that our qualifications should be taken into account,” Wollyung said. “We receive as intense of a training as municipal police officers do in the state, so why are we not recognized?"

Currently, sheriff's offices in Pennsylvania mostly handle firearms licenses, court orders and court security, among other duties. However, they do not usually have active patrols partially because they do not have full legal authority. They hold no investigative powers and can only make on-site arrests.

"There are 2,500 deputies across the state of Pennsylvania that can certainly help with the safety and protection of our citizens,” Anthony said, adding that his deputies are trained to handle most of the situations state and municipal police are authorized to.

Officials with the Sheriffs’ Association of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania say it is a long road to gain more powers for sheriff’s offices under the law, but they say the new requirements are a step in the right direction.

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