Pennsylvania Appoints Special Prosecutor for SEPTA Crimes

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney GeneralCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced the appointment of Michael Untermeyer as the special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) public transit system in Philadelphia. This appointment follows the mandate of Pennsylvania Act 40 of 2023.

Act 40, passed by the legislature and signed into law last December, requires the Office of the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to address violations of law within SEPTA. On Friday, the Commonwealth Court ruled that Act 40 is constitutional, allowing the appointment to move forward.

Untermeyer, a Philadelphia attorney, brings extensive experience to his new role. He has spent fifteen years as a prosecutor, serving in various capacities, including special counsel to the Office of Inspector General, Deputy and Senior Deputy Attorney General, and Assistant District Attorney. Most recently, he worked in private practice and has also served as a hearing examiner for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

The selection process for this position was rigorous, adhering to the specific criteria outlined in Act 40. Candidates had to reside in Philadelphia County, have at least five years of criminal prosecution experience in Pennsylvania, and could not have been employed by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office or the Office of Attorney General in the past six years.

Attorney General Henry emphasized the thoroughness of the selection process. “We worked diligently to follow the mandates of Act 40 to fill the position, first by posting the opportunity, then interviewing applicants to ascertain if they fit the specific criteria established by the law,” she said. “We selected a candidate who expressed a commitment to public safety while possessing the qualifications required by Act 40.”

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The appointment of a special prosecutor to focus on SEPTA-related crimes is significant for several reasons. Public transportation systems, like SEPTA, are vital to the daily lives of many residents. They provide essential services, connecting people to their jobs, schools, and communities. Ensuring that these systems are safe and secure is crucial for maintaining public trust and encouraging continued use.

By appointing a special prosecutor, the state addresses concerns about crime on public transit. This role will allow for more focused and effective prosecution of offenses occurring within the SEPTA system. It demonstrates a commitment to protecting passengers and improving the overall safety of public transportation.

Moreover, the creation of this position highlights the importance of specialized legal expertise in tackling specific types of crime. Public transit systems face unique challenges, and having a dedicated prosecutor can lead to better understanding and more strategic approaches to addressing these issues.

The implications of this appointment extend beyond just SEPTA. It sets a precedent for how other states might address crime on their public transportation systems. By taking a proactive approach, Pennsylvania is leading by example, showing how targeted measures can enhance public safety and confidence in transit services.

In summary, the appointment of Michael Untermeyer as special prosecutor for SEPTA crimes marks a critical step in enhancing the safety and security of Philadelphia’s public transit system. Through this focused effort, Pennsylvania aims to ensure that its public transportation remains a reliable and safe option for all residents. This initiative not only addresses current safety concerns but also strengthens the foundation for a secure and efficient transit system in the future.

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