Harris applauds Wolf’s veto of secretive policing bill

PHILADEPLHIA, Nov. 21 – Calling it a victory for transparency and police-community relations, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman-elect of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, thanked Gov. Tom Wolf today for vetoing House Bill 1538.

"House Bill 1538 would have further eroded the trust between citizens, specifically people of color, and our police force at a time when police-community relations are already strained," Harris said. "Hiding the name of a police officer involved in a potentially deadly encounter is not the way to improve trust between law enforcement and communities that have historically been marginalized by those in power."

House Bill 1538 would have prohibited the release of the name of a police officer who discharges their firearm or uses force that results in death or serious injury until the completion of an official investigation that is not defined and that could take up to 30 days after the incident.

"Transparency is a goal that we strive for at all levels of government," said Rep. Donna Bullock, vice chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. "Police departments perform a highly skilled and dangerous job for the people, but they also should remain accountable to the people. I believe those ideas are not mutually exclusive and that acknowledging it will help build better relations among communities and departments. I applaud the governor for his decision."

The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus wrote to Gov. Wolf asking him to veto this legislation earlier this year.

"Furthermore, this legislation inserted state government into the realm of telling local police departments how they need to run their offices," Harris said. "In the interest of transparency and openness, the Philadelphia Police Department specifically has a policy to identify anyone involved in an officer-involved shooting within 72 hours. I’m glad Governor Wolf realized how damaging this bill would’ve been and made the correct choice in vetoing it."