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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 25, 2019 06:52 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Inter-departmental Law Enforcement Hiring Reform
Too many Pennsylvanians — including law enforcement officers — are needlessly put in grave danger by “pariah police” who’ve left one police department and been hired by another one despite having documented patterns of excessive force or other disturbing misconduct.

And as we know all too well, the consequences of police misconduct can be fatal.

My legislation, modeled after a similar law in Michigan, would require law enforcement agencies to keep detailed personnel records that include all criminal, civil and ethics substantiated complaints, as well as the reason and circumstances surrounding the separation of each officer.

Separation records would be filed with the Office of Attorney General and maintained in an electronic database that law enforcement agencies would be required to search before hiring an officer. This would ensure that previous misconduct in another police department does not go unnoticed.

Should a law enforcement agency choose to hire an officer who separated from his or her last job due to a pattern of substantive allegations, complaints or charges related to excessive force, harassment, theft, discrimination, sexual abuse or sexual misconduct, the agency would be required to issue a public notice 14 days before taking formal action to hire the officer. Subsequently, within 14 days of hiring the officer, the agency must file a report with the Office of Attorney General indicating the rationale for the hiring.

Reviewing separation records can prove vital for law enforcement agencies. For example, the Philadelphia Police Department was aware of multiple departmental violations surrounding the officer who was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of unarmed newlywed, David Jones. Another nationally known tragedy involved the police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in 2014. This officer had been hired by a police department in eastern Ohio.

More recently, on June 19, 2018, an unarmed Antwon Rose II was fatally shot in the back by an East Pittsburgh police officer who had been sworn in just hours earlier. The officer had been dismissed for cause from Pittsburgh University Police Department a few months prior to his hiring by the East Pittsburgh Police Department. Ultimately, the officer was acquitted of the charges.

Transparency and accountability are not the enemy of law enforcement. Therefore, it is our duty to prevent bad cops from being allowed to quietly resign and gain employment with new, unsuspecting departments.

Moreover, this bill can reduce the exorbitant legal fees and incalculable loss of public trust.

In cases of bad actors in the law enforcement field, we must empower police chiefs and municipalities with all relevant information and tools to promote community safety and preserve the integrity of their police force.

Join me today to help protect Pennsylvania families from yet another senseless act of violence tomorrow.

Introduced as HB1666