Conservation officers as traffic cops?
It could happen.
State Rep. Michael Hanna, a Clinton County Democrat, is prime sponsor of two bills that would give Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officers the power to enforce Title 75 laws. Title 75 covers traffic laws, like speeding, running a stop sign and the like.
House Bill 674 would grant wildlife conservation officers those powers; House Bill 673 would do the same for waterways conservation officers.
“This simple proposal would close a gap in our law that has prevented our WCOs from apprehending criminals who should, but unfortunately do not, fall under their jurisdiction,” Hanna wrote in a memo to fellow lawmakers.
The bills, as Hanna explained, would come with a proviso: officers would not be looking to enforce traffic laws specifically. Rather, they could enforce them “while in performance of their duties,” he wrote.
At least one Pennsylvania Game Commissioner supports the idea. Tim Layton of Windber said he sees the change as beneficial. At the commission board’s last working group meeting, he said officers would not be driving around looking to pull over someone with a broken tail light.
They could, however, use the power to stop someone suspected of having been involved in a poaching case, for example, he said.
No other commissioners spoke about the proposal.
Hanna’s bills, which were introduced after that meeting, have been referred to the House game and fisheries committee for consideration.