Berks Sheriffs Now Authorized to Issue Traffic Citations : WFMZ-TV 69News

There are now more eyes on the highways and biways of Berks County. Today, the county's Sheriff's Department got the green light to start writing tickets for traffic violations. WFMZ's Melissa Batulis reports on the deputies' new duties.

Speed or break the law on this area of the highway and you might get pulled over by a West Reading Police officer or maybe a Reading officer, but never a Sheriff's Deputy. Deputies didn't have the jurisdiction to do that until today. But now if they catch you breaking the law on this road, or any road in the county, they too can give you a ticket.

>> WEAKNECHT: We are fully uniformed driving police cars that are fully marked.

>> REPORTER: But Berks County Sheriff's Deputies were not equipped to hand out traffic citations, even if a violation happened right in front of them.

>> WEAKNECHT: The public would look at them to do something and yet they couldn't.

>> REPORTER: Under the counsel of District Attorney John Adams, Sheriff Eric Weaknecht took advantage of a 1994 State Supreme Court ruling that allows deputies to enforce traffic laws.

>> ADAMS: It's another facet for the ability to protect the public and to police our streets from road rage and other vehicle incidents.

>> REPORTER: Previously deputies would call on local police if they saw a violation.

>> WEAKNECHT: The local police are extremely busy. They don't have time to be coming to the deputies and writing citations when the deputies could do that themselves.

>> REPORTER: Sheriff's deputies, the state police and county detectives are the only three agencies with countywide law enforcement jurisdiction. As for whether the increased duties of the deputies is a step toward a countywide police initiative...that is still subject to the boundaries drawn out by the state.

>> SCOTT: Other case law by the supreme court has narrowed the jurisdiction of the sheriffs to be something in between a countywide police department and mere process serving.

>> REPORTER: There is a bill in the state House that would require deputies to complete all of the training of municipal officers and give them even more authority. Currently that legislation is stalled in the judiciary committee.