HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizen Advisory Commission has released a report with recommendations to improve law enforcement in Pennsylvania.
The May 13 report includes recommendations such as requirements for State Troopers to identify themselves during traffic stops and documenting citizen encounters. Recommendations regarding body cameras and use of force policies were also made.
The reports, along with responses from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and the Department of Corrections Parole Field Services (DOC), can be found on the Commission’s website.
1. Citizen Engagement and Communication: PSP should require all PSP members to identify themselves during traffic stops and provide the reason(s) for the stop.
2. Documenting Citizen Encounters: PSP should modify its policies around verbal warnings to ensure that citizens have the option to receive written documentation of a traffic stop.
Enhancements to Policies and Programs:
1. Use of Force Policy Enhancements: The DOC should enhance its use of force policy to include a definition of “reasonable force” consistent with United States Supreme Court precedent (this mirrors similar recommendations regarding PSP’s and DCNR’s use of force policies that were adopted at previous Commission meetings). The DOC should also consider revising its policy to ensure that adequate care is provided to any individual who is injured during a use of force incident.
2. Body Worn Cameras: The DOC should implement a body worn camera program as recommended by best practices (this mirrors similar recommendations to PSP and DCNR that were adopted at previous Commission meetings).
3. Traffic Enforcement Activity Using Criminal Indicators: PSP should adopt a formal policy requiring either quarterly or annual analysis of traffic enforcement data, to be made publicly available. Data should include demographic information, duration of traffic stops, and other information to determine the effectiveness of PSP’s use of criminal indicators in developing reasonable suspicion for initiating traffic stops and/or probable cause for subsequent searches of vehicles. PSP should use this data to evaluate whether the use of criminal indicators should continue in its current form.
“The reports we are issuing today continue the Commission’s important work, especially in improving police engagement with residents,” said Deputy State Inspector General and Commission Chairperson, Sha S. Brown. “PSP and the DOC are on the right path as they work to enhance their policies and procedures and deliver excellent customer service to everyone they encounter in Pennsylvania.”
Governor Tom Wolf created the Commission in 2020 by Executive Order. The Commission is comprised of 21 voting members and six ex-officio members. Voting members include one representative from each of PSP’s current 15 Troop geographic areas and six citizen members who are chosen at-large.