HARRISBURG – Governor Tom Wolf signed two pieces of legislation dealing with law enforcement reform Tuesday in the Pennsylvania State Police Capital.
Wolf’s office says House bills 1841 and 1910 both passed unanimously in the House and Senate. The bills are the first two pieces of legislation from the governor’s comprehensive police reform executive actions announced in early June in the wake of the death of George Floyd when in Minneapolis police custody and subsequent protests in Pennsylvania and across the country.
“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,” Gov Wolf said. “Today, I am signing two bills that will take steps toward achieving this goal.”
House Bill 1841 requires a thorough background check for law enforcement applicants prior to being employed and requires a law enforcement agency to disclose employment information. The bill also establishes an electronic database housed and maintained by the Municipal Police Officers’ Training and Education Training Commission (MPOTEC) that contains separation records of law enforcement officers.
A hiring report that indicates the prospective law enforcement agency’s reason and rationale must be completed if a hiring law enforcement agency hires an individual whose separation record includes any of the following:
- Excessive force
- Sexual abuse or misconduct
- Domestic violence
- Coercion of a false confession
- Filing a false report
- A judicial finding of dishonesty
House Bill 1910 requires mental health evaluations with a focus on PTSD of law enforcement officers as a condition of continued employment. The evaluation may be upon request of a law enforcement officer or a police chief or within 30 days of an incident of the use of lethal force.
The bill also requires training for police officers on trauma-informed care, use of deadly force, de-escalation and harm reduction techniques, community and cultural awareness, implicit bias, procedural justice and reconciliation techniques. Under the bill, magisterial district judges are required to complete, as part of their annual continuing education requirement, one course on the identification and reporting of suspected child abuse and court proceedings involving children.