Pennsylvania State Police are Facing Cutbacks: How does this effect DUI enforcement in PA?
There have been budget cut backs all across Pennsylvania effecting schools, municipal services and even law enforcement. As a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer who deals with the police on a regular basis, I find this really troubling. One of my main gripes with police in Pennsylvania over the years has been that they are understaffed, overworked and under-trained.
For some crimes like speeding for example, there isn’t a large responsibility on the individual police officer to make a judgment call. Speeding is a binary concept and there is not much to investigate. The suspect either committed the crime or didn’t provided that the insturmentaiton of detection (i.e., the radar gun is calibrated and has no demonstrable bias). However, DUI laws in Pennsylvania put a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of police officers. They are required to correctly administer breath tests which is not as easy as it may seem considering how bad the technology in these machines are. Pennsylvania police officer are required to correctly administer the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests which have a very specific methodology. If this process is not followed correctly (expert research shows that 93% of the time officers incorrectly administer the DUI roadside tests) the officer is making conclusions that are not backed by the science that went into standardizing these tests. These judgment calls are not only very tough to make, but are also produce very traumatic consequences if the officer wrongly arrests someone for DUI.
This is why the latest news that New Pennsylvania State Police cadet class will start training Monday has me a bit skeptical. It’s great that Pennsylvania State Police have been able to fill some of the shortage they had but I’m wondering how well trained these new troopers will actually be once they hit the road in lieu of all these cutbacks.
In my humble opinion, law enforcement is one of the last places the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should make cuts. We need a police force that is well-trained to protect us from criminals and to make sure we don’t fall prey to false arrest.