"These deputies have too much power ... They can arrest anyone, anywhere, at any time, and they're not professionals. They're cowboys with guns."
This is a comment by Pa. State Senator Gibson Armstrong, who has proposed an amendment that would severely restrict the power of part-time deputy wildlife conservation officers. According to this story published by the timesleader.com, if passed, the measure would strip the state's wardens of the authority to -- get this -- stop and inspect vehicles, go on private property, search people, camps or cabins, or drive state law enforcement vehicles with sirens and lights.
The story is quick to point out that Sen. Armstrong's proposal comes after his son's citation by a deputy. The 37-year-old son had already pleaded guilty to offenses of resisting or interfering with an officer, disorderly conduct, driving away to avoid an inspection, and failure to produce identification to an officer, for which he had been fined almost $1,300. The son, however, contends that the charges were baseless, and that he only pleaded guilty because the matter was interfering with his ability to get licenses for his business.
Now, I wasn't there, at the side of the road in Lower Chanceford Township, Pa., on the dark and chilly night when the citation-producing incident occurred, so it's hard to know what side to take in such a he-said / he-said situation. However, it seems reasonable to suggest that the elder Armstrong has perhaps taken things a tad too far.
What's your read? And have you ever had an encounter with a CO that made you want to strip every deputy everywhere of their authority? -K.H.