Wheatley, Gainey and Davis ask Turzai to call members back to Capitol

HARRISBURG, July 11 – On Tuesday, state Reps. Jake Wheatley, Ed Gainey and Austin Davis, all D-Allegheny, sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai, urging the Allegheny County Republican to call House members back to the Capitol to focus on law enforcement safety and accountability.

Their request is one of many attempts as of late by House Democrats to bring the police-involved shooting deaths of African-Americans across the country and state to the forefront.

The letter, which was co-signed by a majority of the Allegheny County Democratic Delegation, made clear to Turzai that its intentions to call House members back to Harrisburg were by “no means a witch hunt” to what has “become a repetitive cycle of incidents involving law enforcement and the tragic death of young African-American men.”

Instead, the letter states the goal is to lead “by example” by having representatives return to a session that solely would be dedicated to examining state laws and making changes in “an effort to establish higher standards of accountability and professionalism for those who choose a career of service to their communities.”

Wheatley, Gainey and Davis recently advocated for improved police-community relations following the death of Antwon Rose, an unarmed 17-year-old who was shot and killed June 19 by police during a traffic stop in East Pittsburgh. The police offer who shot Rose has since been charged with criminal homicide.

On June 25, they offered their recommendations on how to resolve and address police shootings and violence during a press conference at the Capitol. They include:

  • Establishing a licensing board or commission to oversee law enforcement;
  • Creating a bipartisan caucus to bring policymakers together to offer ideas and best practices; and
  • Enacting legislation similar to laws that apply to teachers, so that incidents or transgressions related to their employment can be shared with potential employers.

To view a complete version of the letter, click here.