HARRISBURG – Off-duty police officers who serve on Special Emergency Response Teams (SERTs) could respond to incidents quicker and more safely under legislation introduced in the Senate this week, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senator Scott Martin (R-13) and Ryan Aument (R-36).
Senate Bill 1015 would allow SERT officers to use flashing lights and sirens when using their private vehicles to respond to incidents, such as kidnappings, barricaded gunmen and hostage negotiations. Local officials estimate that the use of lights and sirens on personal vehicles could save 10 to 15 minutes in assembling a SERT team.
“In many emergency situations, even a difference of a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death,” Martin said. “These special emergency responders cannot afford to be stuck in traffic when their talents and training are desperately needed to save lives.”
The legislation mirrors a bill from the previous legislative session that was sponsored by Aument and passed the Senate unanimously.
“SERT teams play a critical role in responding to a variety of different emergencies that require specialized training, but very few members of these teams have access to police vehicles when they are off-duty,” Aument said. “The use of lights and sirens on SERT members’ vehicles would not only help them respond quicker to emergencies, but also ensure they get to their destinations safely.”
Lancaster County SERT has approximately 40 members from 16 different police departments. The team has responded to an average of approximately one incident per month over the past six years. The proposal requires any SERT member who leaves the team to return the light and siren.