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SECURITY OFFICERS TRAINING ACADEMY ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/02/79)

decided: February 2, 1979.

SECURITY OFFICERS TRAINING ACADEMY ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police in case of Re: Appeal of Security Officers Training Academy, (Certificate No. LW0017), dated April 7, 1977.

COUNSEL

Jay R. Levenberg, with him Charles Lang Duncan, Jr., for petitioner.

J. Andrew Smyser, Deputy Attorney General, with him Vincent X. Yakowicz, Solicitor General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 281]

After finding that there were detectives, investigators, watchmen and security guards privately employed in the Commonwealth who carry lethal weapons and that accidents have occurred because of the unfamiliarity of these individuals with the handling of weapons, the General Assembly adopted the Lethal Weapons Training Act*fn1 with the purpose of providing for the education, training and certification of such persons through a program administered or approved

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 282]

    by the Commission of the Pennsylvania State Police. The Act requires the Commissioner of State Police to establish or administer a training program and further that all persons who as an incidence to their employment carry lethal weapons should attend such a program. Section 5(3) of the Act, 22 P.S. § 45(3), gives the Commissioner power "To issue certificates of approval to schools approved by [him] and to withdraw certificates of approval from those schools disapproved by [him]." Section 5(4), 22 P.S. § 45(4), gives him power "To certify instructors pursuant to the minimum qualifications established by the commissioner." The Commissioner being empowered by Section 5(10), 22 P.S. § 45(10), to make rules and regulations reasonably necessary or appropriate to implement his education and training program, promulgated regulations which together with forms for applications and reports, establish detailed standards for the certification of persons desiring to attend training programs, for the certification of schools and of instructors, and for the content of courses required to be given persons seeking qualification as security personnel. These regulations, to be found at 37 Pa. Code § 21 et seq., also provide procedures for notification to persons affected by adverse determinations of the Commissioner and for hearings thereon, if desired, before a Hearing Board composed of one commissioned officer of the State Police, one person nominated by the Secretary of Education and a third person nominated by the Secretary of Community Affairs.

The matter presently before us is a petition for review presented by the Security Officers Training Academy calling into question the propriety of an order of the Commissioner of State Police made January 24, 1977 revoking, or in the word of the statute "withdrawing," a certificate issued September 17,

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 2831975]

approving the petitioner as a training school for persons desiring to be qualified to handle lethal weapons in their private employment. The Commissioner's action, as the notice provided to the petitioner recorded, was the result of an investigation by the State Police of a complaint concerning a course of instruction called the Basic Course with Firearms given by the petitioner in York, Pennsylvania to employes of Burns International Security Services in October and December 1976. This course was intended to lead to certification of the Burns' students by the Commissioner as qualified to handle firearms. The person who conducted these sessions in behalf of the Security Officers Training Academy was one Elbert M. Saddler, the then so-called Director of the petitioner. Mr. Saddler was not certificated as an instructor in any of the academic subjects required to be successfully completed by the students as a requirement for certification. For this reason, when he went to York and while he was there teaching at both the October and December 1976 sessions, Saddler posed as one John P. Kaze, the former Chief Instructor of Security Officers Training Academy. Mr. Kaze was certified to teach all of the subjects in the Basic Course with Firearms. Purporting to be Kaze, Saddler gave instruction in all of the required courses, including the academic subjects he was not certified as qualified to teach. Reports covering the persons in attendance, the courses taught, the test scores of the students and their successful completion of the courses -- documentation necessary for the certification of the students to handle firearms -- were sent to the Commissioner of State Police over the signatures of Saddler and one Joseph L. Robinson. Further, although the students had not been instructed in any of the academic subjects by a qualified instructor each was provided with a certificate

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 284]

    signed by Robinson that he had successfully completed the ...


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