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BC police chief helps craft law-enforcement bill

Until recently, police officers at many colleges in Virginia were not recognized as law enforcement entities beyond the confines of their campuses.

Thanks to House Bill 771, which Gov. Bob McDonnell approved in April – and thanks in large part to the efforts of Bridgewater College Police Chief Nicholas Picerno – all that will change beginning July 1.

Picerno worked with bill patron Del. Steve Landes (R-25th) to include language that defines police officers at colleges and universities as law enforcement officers.

The bill established that campus police officers, as appointed by public and private institutions of higher education, are included within the definition of law-enforcement officer.  It allows campus police officers  more flexibility in their ability to arrest law violators, including arresting without a warrant any person who commits any crime in the presence of the officer and any person whom the officer has reasonable grounds or probable cause to suspect of having committed a felony not in the officer’s presence.

The bill also exempts campus police from undergoing a background check when purchasing firearms.

“The passage of this legislation was extremely important to campus law enforcement throughout the commonwealth,” Picerno said. “I contacted Del. Steve Landes, who is known as an advocate for professional law enforcement. He quickly championed the bill and in so doing rectified deficiencies in current law thereby allowing campus police to provide an added layer of substantive protection to the community we serve.”

augusta free press
augusta free press