Seven months after a Snyder County judge granted full arrest powers to Selinsgrove Area School District Police Chief Mark Wolfberg and two of his part-time officers, Pennsylvania lawmakers have stripped much of their authority away.
Act 67 limits the arrest powers of all school district officers to only issuing citations for summary offenses such as smoking or drinking on campus, harassment and disorderly conduct. They are not permitted to charge anyone on campus with a misdemeanor or felony offense, reports the Daily Item.
"Nobody saw this coming. Nobody," said Wolfberg, a former Selinsgrove borough police officer who recently had two new part-time officers added to his department.
Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch is trying to understand what happened.
"It was done so quickly and quietly," he said of the state's decision to reduce school police officers' authority just one year after enacting a bill allowing school districts to establish their own enforcement department.
"School districts have invested in this and specifically hired (staff) with a high level of qualifications," said Piecuch.
State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-108 of Sunbury, said the limitations came about after concerns were raised by the Fraternal Order of Police who have offered to meet with school-based officers.
"Safety is our primary concern," she said, adding that lawmakers will likely revisit the issue.
As for now, Act 67 will take effect Aug. 31.