Gov. Tom Wolf signs two measures on July 14, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pa. designed to overhaul law enforcement hiring and training practices in the wake of nationwide protests over systemic racism and police brutality.
(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed two bills Tuesday that reform police hiring and training practices.
House Bills 1841 and 1910 create a database of officer conduct records that can be consulted during the hiring process and train employees to recognize implicit bias and use de-escalation and reconciliation techniques when responding to incidents.
“We have made progress in six weeks, but we are far, far from the finish line,” Wolf said. “My executive order and the bills I’m going to sign in the next few minutes are still not enough to halt the systemic racism and oppression that exists throughout our commonwealth.”
Wolf signed the measures – the first two in the Legislature’s ongoing response to protests against systemic racism and police brutality – at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) in Harrisburg.
“A little over a month ago, I met with leaders of Black communities in Philadelphia and Harrisburg to discuss ways we can improve law enforcement to make our commonwealth safer for every Pennsylvanian,” he said, referencing a June 2 visit to Philadelphia amid ongoing civil unrest after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “Today, I am signing two bills that will take steps toward achieving this goal.”
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, PCCD Executive Director Mike Pennington, State Police Lt. Col. Christopher Harris and a handful of legislators attended the signing Tuesday morning.
“I commend Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly for establishing a mandatory, statewide database of police misconduct – a key change sought by reform advocates and a down payment on the improvements we still need to make,” Shapiro said. “Today, Pennsylvania becomes one of the only states in the country to change its laws in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing.”
Two more reform bills await consideration in the House Judiciary Committee after the Senate passed the measures unanimously last month. Senate Bill 459 and 1205 would ban the use of chokeholds and mandate use of force policies for the state’s 1,100-plus local police departments, respectively.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, who sponsored SB 1205, said he hopes Tuesday’s bill signings are the first of many.
“Every corner of this state and in every one of our districts, citizens have called for reform. We’ve heard them, and we’re still listening,” he said. “These bills are a step in the right direction for better outcomes in our criminal justice system, but they are just the first step. Our work continues. By enacting comprehensive reforms, I believe we can prevent the next tragedy.”