HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) In light of the growing calls for police reform, Governor Tom Wolf signed two bills into law, aimed at doing just that.
House Bill 18-41 requires police officers looking for a new job to turn over all information from previous departments.
It also requires police departments to record any disciplinary action taken against officers and set up a database for that information. Agencies will also have to explain to a commission why it hired an officer with past offenses.
The second bill will implement new training for police officers in use of force, community and cultural awareness, implicit bias and more. It also requires that officers undergo mental health screenings after use-of-force incidents.
These laws gained bi-partisan support as well as support from state and local law enforcement agencies.
Many are calling this historic law enforcement reform legislation. It comes in the wake of the murder of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis in May. Floyd’s death sparked protests around the country.
“So we have made progress in six weeks, but we are far from the finish line,” said Governor Tom Wolf.
The governor was joined by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as well state and local law enforcement.
Governor Wolf said, “We must continue to work to reform our law enforcement entities. This is good stuff because while we have many, many law enforcement officers who are honorable, dedicated, genuinely good and caring people, the disproportionate number of negative outcomes for black Pennsylvanian’s show us all that issues still exist.”
Lt. Colonel Chris Paris spoke on behalf of the Pennsylvania State Police, which supports the legislation.
“Law enforcement officers are entrusted to provide safety to residents and visitors in the Commonwealth,” Paris said. “Officers are entrusted to serve the community and are held to a higher standard. Residents of the Commonwealth expect the utmost qualified and honorable officers to serve their respective communities.”
State Representative of the 74th district in Chester County Dan Williams was a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“This in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the effect of the other voices that have gone unheard for centuries,” said Williams.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro was also at the bill signing in Harrisburg. He helped gather support for the reform legislation. Eyewitness News spoke with him one-on-one about what this all means for Pennsylvania.
“We got something done in Pennsylvania today that is going to make community members feel safer and I think ultimately make everyone safer — police officers and the community,” Shapiro said.