Officer Certification - Rules and Regulations

§ 203.1. Definitions.

In addition to the definitions contained in the act, the following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings:

Act – The act of June 18, 1974 (P. L. 359, No. 120) (53 P. S. §§ 740–749).

Certification – The assignment of a certification number to a police officer evidencing successful completion of a mandatory basic training course or receipt of a waiver of basic training from the Commission and successful completion of mandatory in-service training.

Certified police officer – A police officer who is authorized to enforce 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Crimes Code), moving violations of 75 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Vehicle Code), and carry a firearm.

Chairperson of the Commission – The Commissioner of the State Police.

Commission – The Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission.

Conviction – An adjudication of guilt including the imposition of a sentence.

Disqualifying criminal offense – A criminal offense for which more than 1 year in prison can be imposed as punishment.

Executive Director – The Commission elected head of staff responsible for administration. See section 5(10) of the act (53 P. S. § 744(10)).

Program – The Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Program.

School – A training school or academy which provides a basic police training course. The term includes an organization which provides such a course within the functional organization of a police department or any educational entity within this Commonwealth which provides such a course at its base facility and at other locations approved by the Commission. Each separate geographical location shall be considered a school.

 

§ 203.11. Qualifications.

(a)  Except as provided in subsection (b), persons who are to be employed as police officers by police departments within this Commonwealth from December 21, 1996, shall:

(1) Be 18 years of age or older.

(2) Possess a high school diploma or GED Equivalency.

(3) Be citizens of the United States.

(4) Be free from convictions of disqualifying criminal offenses.

(5)  Be able to read at no less than the ninth grade level, as established through the administration of the Nelson-Denny Reading Test.

(6) Be personally examined by a licenced physician, physician's assistant, or certified nurse practitioner who is licensed in Pennsylvania. The examination shall include the following:

(i) Applicants shall be free from the addictive or excessive use of either alcohol or drugs which shall be determined using current laboratory testing procedures.

(ii) Applicants shall be free from the use of illegal controlled substances which shall be determined using current laboratory testing procedures.

(iii) Applicants physical condition shall be such that applicants could reasonably be expected to withstand significant cardiovascular stress.

(iv) Applicants shall be free from any debilitating conditions such as tremor, incoordination, convulsion, fainting episodes or other neurological conditions which may affect the applicants' ability to perform as police officers.

(v) Applicants shall have visual acuity of at least 20/70, uncorrected in the stronger eye, correctable to at least 20/20; and at least 20/200, uncorrected in the weaker eye, correctable to at least 20/40. In addition, the applicant shall have normal depth and color perception and be free of any other significant visual abnormality.

(vi) Applicants shall have audio acuity sufficient to distinguish a normal whisper at a distance of 15 feet. The test shall be independently conducted for each ear while the tested ear is facing away from the speaker and the other ear is firmly covered with the palm of the hand. The applicant may not use a hearing aid or other aid to perform the test. If the applicant fails this test, the applicant shall be required to take and pass a decibel audio test.

(vii) Applicants may not be missing any extremities, including digits, which would prevent performance of required police duties or meeting minimum training requirements.

(viii) Applicants shall be free from any other significant physical limitations or disabilities which would, in the physician's opinion, impair the applicant's ability to perform the duties of a police officer or complete the required minimum training requirements.

(7) Be personally examined by a Pennsylvania licensed psychologist and found to be psychologically capable to exercise appropriate judgment or restraint in performing the duties of a police officer. The examination shall include the following elements:

(i) Interview and history . The psychologist shall personally interview the applicant. The interview shall include a summary of the applicant's personal, educational, employment and criminal history.

(ii) Required psychological test . Applicants shall be administered a current standard form of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).

(iii) Other testing methods. If the licensed psychologist is unable to certify the applicant's psychological capability to exercise appropriate judgment and restraint to perform the duties of a police officer including the handling of a lethal weapon, the psychologist shall employ whatever other appropriate techniques to form a professional opinion of the applicant's ability. The use of these additional techniques requires a full and complete written explanation to the Commission on a form submitted by the psychologist to the Commission indicating what additional testing has been performed and the results of the tests.

(8)  Be evaluated to determine physical fitness using the standards developed by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas , Texas . Each applicant shall score no lower than the 30th percentile of the Cooper standards, which coincides with the 30th percentile of the general population, in each of the five required evaluations to be eligible for employment. A person will not be enrolled in a recruit training program at a police academy certified by the Commission unless the person has obtained a score in the 30th percentile or higher for the person's age and gender as specified in the Cooper standards for each of the five evaluations. The five required evaluations are as follows:

(i)  1.5 mile run.

(ii)  300 meter run.

(iii)  One repetition bench press.

(iv)  One minute sit ups.

(9) Certify whether they have taken a physical examination or psychological evaluation conducted in conjunction with an application for police employment within the previous year and the outcome of the examination or evaluation.

(10) Be subject to a thorough background investigation conducted by the applicant's employing police department. The investigation shall include the following:

(i) A criminal history check including the submission of fingerprints to the Central Repository for the Commonwealth and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(ii) A check of the applicant's credit history.

(iii) Personal interviews conducted with at least 3 people that have personal knowledge of the applicant but are not related to the applicant.

(iv) Interviews of the applicant's employers, if any, for the past 5 years to determine the applicant's work history.

(v) A check of the applicant's driving record verifying that the applicant has a valid driver's license.

(11) Successfully complete a basic police training course given at a Commission-certified school or obtain a waiver of training as enumerated in § 203.12 (relating to waiver of training).

(i) Successful completion of a basic police training course shall be determined by the training school, based upon Commission standards.

(ii) To qualify for this certification, an applicant shall:

(A) Achieve a minimum qualifying firearms score of 75%.

(B) Receive certification for First Aid and CPR from the American Red Cross, the Department of Health, the American Heart Association or other agencies approved by the Department of Health.

(C) Comply with Commission and school rules and regulations.

(D) Pass the same certification exam administered to those seeking waiver of training as set forth in § 203.12(4).

(E) Attend 100% of all classes.

(I) Excused absences shall be mutually agreed upon by the police officer's department head and school director. School directors shall determine excused absences for applicants not employed as police officers.

(II) Excused absentees shall include personal illness or injury, illness in the immediate family requiring the applicant's attention or death in the immediate family.

(F) Complete the basic training course approved by the Commission with a minimum grade as established by the Commission. The Commission will publish a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and in the Commission newsletter whenever the minimum grade on each tested area of examination changes.

(I)   Applicants not achieving the minimum grade in any tested area shall repeat the failed training in that area before being eligible to take the examination in that tested area at a Commission-certified school. If the applicant fails to achieve the minimum grade on the applicant’s second attempt, the applicant shall be required to successfully retake and pass the entire basic police training course to qualify for certification.

(II)   Applicants not achieving the minimum grade in two separate tested areas during one basic police training course shall be required to retake and pass the entire basic police training course in order to qualify for certification.

(b)  Subsection (a) does not apply to persons who meet one of the following conditions:

(1)  Previously held valid certification issued by the Commission within 2 years prior to the date of employment on the application. Persons who received a certification prior to 1988 and who did not have a psychological evaluation shall obtain a psychological evaluation to obtain certification. 

(2)  Were sworn and full duty members honorably discharged from the Pennsylvania State Police within 2 years prior to the date of employment on the application for certification. A past member who enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Police prior to May 1998 and who did not have a psychological evaluation shall obtain a psychological evaluation to obtain certification.

 

Cross References

This section cited in 37 Pa. Code § 203.15 (relating to application packet submission).

§ 203.12. Waiver of Training.

Applications for certification for which waivers of training are requested shall be submitted by the applicant's employing police department. An applicant for a waiver of training shall:

(1) Be employed as a police officer.

(2) Satisfy one of the following conditions:

(i) Successfully completed a Pennsylvania basic police training course approved by the Commission.

(ii) Previously was a Commission-certified police officer and left this position in good standing.

(iii) Previously was employed as a full-time police officer in this Commonwealth before June 18, 1974, who was not required to obtain certification from the Commission, and worked as a full-time police officer for at least 5 years.

(iv) Previously or currently employed as a full-time police officer of another state and met the certification standards of that state, as evidenced by documentation from the state agency responsible for establishing the standards.

(3) Undergo proficiency testing in the following three areas. Documentary proof of each qualification shall accompany the waiver of training application.

(i) Firearms . Applicants shall qualify on a police firearms course conducted by a certified police firearms instructor with the weapons the applicant will use in the performance of his police duties. The Commission will publish the requirements for a police firearms course in the Commission newsletter on an annual basis.

(ii) First Aid/CPR . Applicants shall have valid certification in first aid and adult, child and infant CPR, from the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, the Department of Health or other agency approved by the Department of Health.

(iii) Patrol vehicle operation . Applicants shall successfully pass the patrol vehicle operation test required in the basic police training course at a certified school or by a certified instructor.

(4) Take a certification examination administered by the Commission at a location and time designated by the Commission. The schedule for the examinations may be obtained by writing the Commission office.

(i) The minimum passing score  will be established by the Commission. The Commission will publish a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and in the Commission newsletter whenever the minimum passing score changes.

(ii) An applicant for a waiver of training shall be permitted to take the certification examination a ma ximum of three times and only once in any day.

(iii) Applicants will not be certified without obtaining a passing score on the certification examination. Failure to pass the certification examination after three attempts shall result in the applicant being required to take and pass the entire basic training course to qualify for certification.

(iv) Examination results shall be valid for 2 years. For applicants obtaining a passing score, no further examinations will be administered within this period.

Cross References

This section cited in 37 Pa. Code § 203.11 (relating to qualifications). § 203.13. Certification as a municipal police officer.

(a) General.

(1) The Commission will supply written verification to the applicant's employing police department upon the applicant's completion of the Commission's requirements for certification as a police officer.

(2) Verification shall be valid only in the department identified on the document provided by the applicant. Upon termination of employment in a department, certification for that department shall be void and shall be returned to the Commission by the department.

(3) If the certification document has been lost or destroyed, a notarized statement shall be provided to the Commission concerning the certification.

(b) Initial certification.

(1) Initial certification is valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. The document provided by the Commission shall contain the dates of issuance and expiration in addition to a certification number for identification purposes.

(2) Upon receipt of certification a police officer is authorized to enforce 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Crimes Code) and moving violations of 75 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Vehicle Code), and to carry a firearm.

(c) Renewal of certification.

(1) The Commission will issue a renewal certificate only to police officers who have satisfied the mandatory in-service training requirements set forth under § 203.52 (relating to mandatory in-service training courses). Mandatory in-service training schools shall provide written notice to the Commission of all police officers who have successfully completed the mandatory in-service training course.

(2) Certification shall be renewed every 2 years.

§ 203.14. Revocation of certification.

(a) The Commission maintains the right to revoke certification after notice and an opportunity to be heard under Subchapter G (relating to notice and hearings) for one or more of the following:

(1) Failure to maintain employment as a police officer under the act.

(2) Failure to maintain first aid or CPR certification.

(3) Failure to qualify with firearms as specified in the Commission newsletter.

(4) Failure to successfully complete annual mandatory in-service training as specified in the Commission newsletter.

(5) Physical or psychological impairment which renders the officer permanently unable to perform his duties.

(6) Conviction for a disqualifying criminal offense.

(7) Submission to the Commission of a document that the police officer knows contains false information including fraudulent application.

(8) A certification issued in error.

(9) Cheating.

(b) Under subsection (a)(1),(5) and (6), it shall be the responsibility of the head of the applicant's employing police department to provide written notice to the Commission of the following:

(1) An officer's termination of employment.

(2) An officer who has been determined to have a permanent physical or psychological condition which renders the officer unable to perform his duties.

(3) An officer's arrest for a disqualifying offense within 15 days from the date of arrest.

(c) Municipalities may request additional time for police officers to complete in-service training requirements by filing a show cause document with the Commission requesting additional time. These requests shall be filed on a form supplied by the Commission and considered by the Commission on a case-by-case basis. § 203.15. Application packet submission.

(a) General.

(1) Forms shall be original.

(2) Forms shall be typewritten.

(3) Signatures shall be original.

(b) Application packets. Application packets may be obtained by contacting the Commission at the Commission office. Each application packet shall include:

(1) One application form for certification. All questions shall be answered and the appropriate sections completed.

(2) Two fingerprint cards–one State Police Applicant Fingerprint Card and one FBI Applicant Fingerprint Card.

(i) Only fingerprint cards obtained from the Commission may be submitted with the application for certification.

(ii) The fingerprints of the applicant shall be affixed on the fingerprint cards.

(iii) Both fingerprint cards shall contain the contributor number PAPSP0100. Criminal fingerprint cards or fingerprint cards not containing the contributor number will not be accepted.

(3) One physical examination form.

(i) Physical examinations shall be performed by a licensed physician or osteopath as described in § 203.11(4) (relating to qualifications).

(ii) The physical examination form shall be submitted regardless of the results of the examination.

(iii) At the discretion of the hiring authority, a physical examination conducted in conjunction with police employment may be valid for 6 months and may be used in support of any police employment application during that period. If a change in the applicant's physical condition invalidates the prior physical examination, a reexamination shall be necessary.

(4) One psychological evaluation form.

(i) Psychological evaluations shall be performed by a licensed psychologist as described in § 203.11(5).

(ii) The psychological evaluation form shall be submitted regardless of the results of the evaluation.

(iii) At the discretion of the hiring authority, a psychological evaluation specifically conducted in conjunction with police employment may be valid for 6 months and may be used in support of any police employment application during that period. If a change in the applicant's psychological condition invalidates the prior psychological evaluation, a reevaluation shall be necessary.

(c) Submission of packets. Application packets shall be submitted by the head of the applicant's employing police department when an officer must attend basic police training or when a waiver of training is requested.