Assembly bill aims to lift limits on school police officers’ jurisdiction
March 7, 2013
A bill that would remove restrictions on the roles of school police officers drew support at a Nevada legislative hearing on Wednesday, but opponents say some agencies lack the integrity to handle any increase in responsibility. Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, D- Las Vegas, presented the bill, Assembly Bill 103, to members of the Assembly Government Affairs committee.Supporters argued that school police are responsible for enforcing the same laws within their designated areas, so they should be allowed to maintain the public safety to and from work, and in the communities surrounding their current jurisdiction.AB103 removes restrictions on the duties of school police officers and makes them the equivalent of primary law enforcement officers. Under existing law, school police officers’ jurisdiction is only school property, unless they are at a school function, issuing traffic citations on the streets adjacent to school property or in hot pursuit of a criminal outside those realms.If they are entrusted with enforcing the same laws — with the same equipment — they should be treated the same as primary officers, Robert Conway, a lobbyist for Ironworkers Local 433, told the committee.“If they have a badge, a gun and a car, I just don’t see much difference,” he said.“We don’t have an issue with making them category 1 officers — they have a badge and a gun,” said Frank Peterson, of Las Vegas, while holding up a picture of his deceased daughter. “The issue we have is with their leadership.”Peterson’s daughter, Angela, was killed in 2009 by a drunken driver who allegedly drank while at a party hosted by Clark County School District Police Department employees before the wreck.“With being category 1 officers, they should have new leadership that comes with new accountability,” Peterson told the committee via video feed from Las Vegas.Gina Greison, the founder of Look Out Kids About, a coalition dedicated to school-zone safety, also said the Clark County School District Police should not see a role expansion.“I fear expanding their jurisdiction and authority when we’re already having issues,” she said via a video feed from Las Vegas. She added that school police in Clark County were found to be issuing speeding tickets on U.S. Highway 93, far from any school zone.“We need more police officers on the street, but there’s a difference between school police officers and police officers,” Greison told committee members.The bill would also repeal a requirement for school police in Nevada’s two largest counties, Clark and Washoe, to transfer investigations of category A felonies to a primary law enforcement agency. No action was taken on the bill Wednesday.