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12/04/97 COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RONALD F.

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


December 4, 1997

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
RONALD F. CROUSHORE, APPELLANT

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, No. CL 2951 OF 1997. Before DAUER, J.

Before: Cirillo, P.j.e., Tamilia, J., and Montemuro, J.* Opinion BY Tamilia, J.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tamilia

OPINION BY TAMILIA, J.:

Appellant, Ronald F. Croushore, appeals from the judgment of sentence of twenty-five dollars ($25) and costs imposed April 21, 1997, after he was found guilty of driving through a solid red light in violation of the Vehicle Code. *fn1 Appellant claims the police employed by the University of Pittsburgh do not possess the authority to stop and cite a motorist for a summary violation of the Vehicle Code on a municipal street abutting the University's campus.

On February 13, 1997, University of Pittsburgh Police Officer Neil Reinsselder stopped Croushore and issued a traffic citation after observing him drive through a solid red light at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard. Following his appeal from the district Justice's finding of guilt, appellant was found guilty at a bench trial de novo and ordered to pay a fine of $25 and costs. Subsequently, appellant filed this timely appeal.

Appellant claims that absent an emergency, the University Police cannot exercise jurisdiction over motorists on a municipal street abutting the University. Capitol Police, Commonwealth Property Police and Campus Police, § 2416, of The Administrative Code provides as follows:

The Capitol Police, Commonwealth Property Police and the Security or Campus Police of all State colleges and universities, State aided or related colleges and universities and community colleges shall have the power, and their duty shall be:

(e) To exercise the same powers as are now or may hereafter be exercised under authority of law or ordinance by the police of the cities of Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, municipalities in Dauphin County wherein State buildings are located and in municipalities wherein said colleges, universities and community colleges are located:

Security and Campus Police shall exercise their powers and perform their duties only on the premises of the State colleges and universities, State aided or related colleges and universities and community colleges by or for which they are employed[.]

71 P.S. § 646 (emphasis added). *fn2 By its own terms, section 2416 restricts the exercise of the University Police powers to "the premises" of the University. Moreover, appellant's actions took place entirely on a public street.

This case is virtually identical to Horton v. Commonwealth, Dep't of Transp., 694 A.2d 1 (Pa. Commw.Ct. 1997). In that case, "University of Pittsburgh Police Sergeant Vernon Barkley . . . observed a green Dodge Ram Charger fail to stop at a red traffic light located at the intersection of Bigelow Boulevard and Forbes Avenue." Id. The court acknowledged that the University of Pittsburgh was a state-related institution and found that "a traffic offense on a public street located in the City of Pittsburgh" was not on the premises of the University. 694 A.2d at 3. Therefore, the Commonwealth Court, citing this Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Savage, 403 Pa. Super. 446, , 589 A.2d 696, 698 (1991), held the University Police were not authorized to arrest the defendant for driving under the influence.

Moreover, section 2416(h) of The Administrative Code *fn3 "specifically sets forth the circumstances under which campus police may exercise their powers off campus." Savage, supra at , 589 A.2d at 698. Those circumstances only occur during an emergency situation when a specific request is made by the Mayor or other executive authority. 71 P.S. § 646(h). In the instant case, no circumstances existed which would justify the University Police in exercising jurisdiction beyond the boundaries of the University. Consequently, the University Police lacked the authority to stop appellant for running a red light, and his conviction cannot stand.

Judgment of sentence reversed; appellant is discharged. *fn4

Jurisdiction relinquished.


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