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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 7, 2019 12:48 PM
From: Representative Harry Readshaw
To: All House members
Subject: Police Background Investigation

Police officers are hardworking men and women who are entrusted with among the most important of tasks: to protect our residents and visitors. As such, we value their bravery and selflessness, but we also hold them to high standards during the recruitment process. Pennsylvania currently requires that every officer candidate must undergo a thorough background investigation conducted by the employing law enforcement agency, which must include both criminal history and past employment history. However, there is no requirement for a previous employer to turn over this information. Law enforcement agencies such as police offices and correctional facilities are often reluctant to provide comprehensive information on a former employee out of concern for civil liability. This could leave critical gaps of knowledge, including disciplinary actions against the police officer candidate.
To correct this issue, we are introducing legislation that would require an employer to disclose employment information to a law enforcement agency that is conducting a background investigation of an applicant, and to permit a court to compel the release of such employment information if the employer fails to comply. The disclosure requests would be in writing and be required to have an authorization signed by the applicant and the sworn Chief of Police or authorized licensed investigator who is conducting the investigation.
Importantly, the bill would also free the applicant’s previous employers from civil liability for sharing employment information in good faith with a police department looking to hire a new officer.
Please join us in ensuring the best police officer candidates are hired and in protecting public safety in Pennsylvania.
This language was developed following extensive conversations with retired Pittsburgh Chief of Police and former Rep. Dom Costa.

Introduced as HB1841