HARRISBURG – As voices around the country call for action to grow relationships between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve, today the House Judiciary Committee voted on two comprehensive bills dealing with the vetting and training of police officers.
“Today’s unanimous vote speaks volumes to the importance of these issues,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said. “Ultimately the issue is about trust, and taking steps to ensure all residents and all law enforcement are taking strides to build trust makes for a safer Pennsylvania, and everyone benefits.”
“We cannot ignore the events taking place across our nation in the aftermath of the horrific death of George Floyd,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) said. “The bills we voted on today will help ensure Pennsylvania continues to maintain an outstanding network of men and women who protect and serve with skill and integrity.”
House Bill 1841
would require a thorough background investigation on an applicant for employment as a law enforcement officer, including a review of the applicant’s employment information and separation records from prior law enforcement employment, before the applicant may be employed. It would also require the establishment and maintenance of an electronic database containing separation records of law enforcement officers for use by other law enforcement agencies when hiring certified law enforcement officers.
David Kennedy, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, recently wrote, “We have long supported a statewide registry so our department can ensure it only hires people who are worthy of being a state trooper, and look forward to being part of this effort. Our Call of Honor is more than just words. It’s our commitment to our fellow Pennsylvanians.”
House Bill 1910
also passed the committee. It would require the training of officers on interacting with individuals of diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds; implicit bias training; recognizing and reporting child abuse; and annual training on the use of appropriate force. In addition, the bill would establish better access to mental health evaluations for law enforcement officers.
“We are always looking at ways to better support our men and women in blue and ensure they are equipped to best serve the public at large,” said Kauffman. “We cannot even imagine the situations and scenes police officers deal with on a daily basis, and this legislation will help ensure they have access to the training and mental health assistance they need to help them best handlethe various aspects of their job.
“The best way we can improve the level of trust and respect between our law enforcement officers and the public is by ensuring we have measures in place that will only put the very best officers out on the street,” said Kauffman.
Both bills received input from law enforcement officials and were unanimously passed by the committee. A full House vote on both bills is anticipated for next week.
Representative Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives