Monroe County Sheriff Todd A. Martin, president of the Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association
A number of important issues face our state lawmakers as they return to Harrisburg following the summer recess. One is a proposal that would give nearly 2,500 deputy sheriffs with extensive law enforcement training the authority to fully participate in protecting our communities from crime and drugs.
A ruling this year by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court created confusion over what types of law enforcement activities can be performed by deputy sheriffs. The court ruled that, under current Pennsylvania statute, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs were not ''investigative or law enforcement officers.'' Based on that decision, the Office of Attorney General has temporarily suspended the involvement of about 75 deputy sheriffs who served on Drug Task Forces throughout the commonwealth. Attorney General Tom Corbett told the sheriffs at our annual conference that it was one of the toughest letters his office had to write.
The court acknowledged the need for legislation that would resolve the issue of whether deputy sheriffs are investigative or law enforcement officers. The Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association, along with other local, county and state organizations, is working with state lawmakers to draft legislation that would address the court's concerns. [...]