Legislators join rally to call for law enforcement reforms

Hundreds of students, community members call for change

HARRISBURG, May 1 – State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and other legislators joined hundreds of youth and community members at a noontime rally Tuesday in the Pennsylvania Capitol Rotunda to call for reforms to Pennsylvania’s law enforcement system.

“We’re here today supporting a package of legislation that would protect our communities, and I want to make it clear, this is not anti-police legislation. We want the best training for our police officers,” Lee said. “But we need accountability. We need to update and change the laws by which police operate to ensure our children come home at night. We’re here today with hope. We’re here today with demands, and we’re here today with solutions.”

Bills being introduced by legislators include:

  • Use of Force, Rep. Ed Gainey and Rep. Summer Lee -- Provides definitions for the use of deadly force.

  • Special Prosecutor, Rep. Brian Sims -- Requires the Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate any incident of deadly use of force by a law enforcement officer.

  • Inter-departmental Law Enforcement Hiring Reform, Rep. Chris Rabb -- Requires law enforcement agencies to keep detailed personnel records that include criminal, civil and ethics complaints, and the reason surrounding an officer leaving a job for hiring purposes.

  • Arbitration, Rep. Donna Bullock -- Prohibits the use of arbitration regarding matters of discipline for police.

  • Certification and Decertification Process for Police Officers, Rep. Jake Wheatley --Establishes a statewide standard for training and policing regulations for departments and individual officers, including municipal/local officers, sheriffs, correctional officers and state police.

“There is nothing more precious than a human life. And we need to work to make sure that every time our children go outside, they have a chance to come home at night,” Gainey said. “If the law is bad, then we need to change the law. It’s that simple. But I am tired of seeing young African American men and women being killed simply for running away.”

“This package of bills includes provisions for law enforcement licensing, similar to how other professions are licensed,” Wheatley said. “We need law enforcement to have a similar process. We know that we have many great police officers; we also know that we have some bad actors, just as we do in all other professions. These bills would protect our good officers, just as they would protect our communities.”

“The goal is to provide more police accountability and increase police standards so that communities can begin to have faith and trust in the police departments that patrol and protect their neighborhoods,” Davis said. “This bill package provides the building blocks to a brighter, more positive police-community relationship across the commonwealth.”