Coalition of legislators unveils bills aimed at reforming police procedures

HARRISBURG, April 16 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and PLBC members were joined by a coalition of legislators from around the state for a press conference to unveil a package of legislation aimed at streamlining police procedures and improving police-community relations at noon today in the Capitol Media Center.

“I’m inspired by the actions taken by legislators across the state to put these issues at the forefront of policy,” Kinsey said. “If we want to see change, we need to take action collectively to break down these barriers of discrimination and instill trust in our police forces and communities once again. Only by coming together can we learn from one another and make progress for the safety of our children and their future.”

The legislative package features multiple bills and resolutions, including legislation that would:

  • Modify definitions in statute for the use of deadly force.
  • Reform interdepartmental police hiring by requiring law enforcement agencies to keep detailed personnel records surrounding an officer leaving a job.
  • Appoint a special prosecutor to investigate any incident of deadly use of force involving a law enforcement officer.
  • Reform the certification and decertification process for police officers.
  • Address arbitration regarding matters of discipline for police.

“The relationship between police and the public has been strained for some time,” Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. and vice chairwoman of the PLBC, said. “Shootings of unarmed people, videos of excessive force, and a general sense of distrust have deteriorated police-community relations. This legislative package is a step toward addressing the complex challenge of maintaining public safety, treating people fairly and police oversight and professionalism.”

“Over the years as elected officials, we hear a common theme among our residents, ‘Why should we reach out to the police when all they want to do is arrest us?’,” Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York and secretary of the PLBC, said. “As legislators we have to be the conduit that increases both the number and improves the narrative of conversations between our citizens and our law enforcement.”

“Far too often we are seeing injustices like the police shooting and death of Antwon Rose,” Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny and treasurer of the PLBC, said. “This package of legislation is one way we can make a difference and seek justice. Police officers, just like any other citizen, need to be held accountable, and we must continue to fight to make sure that happens; to protect communities and our vulnerable populations, as well as police officers and their departments.”

The legislators plan a rally and lobbying day in support of this legislation for Tuesday, April 30 at the Capitol.