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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: January 31, 2024 11:22 AM
From: Representative Tarik Khan and Rep. Kate A. Klunk, Rep. Joseph C. Hohenstein, Rep. Rick Krajewski, Rep. Chris Pielli, Rep. Kyle Donahue, Rep. David M. Delloso
To: All House members
Subject: Using Seat Belts in Transportation of Detained Individuals
On April 18, 2023, on the way back to the county prison, Richard Smith of Delaware County was permanently paralyzed when his transport van, driven by Delaware County constables, was struck by another driver. Smith passed away three weeks later, just days before his 56th birthday. This tragedy inspired the Pennsylvania State Constables Association to quickly change their internal policies, but more work needs to be done as this was not an isolated incident. In 2022, Connecticut resident Randy Cox was also left paralyzed after being placed in a police van without any form of seatbelt.
To address this inadequacy in Pennsylvania’s safety protocol when transporting an individual who has been detained, we will be introducing legislation that would require sheriffs, constables, state and local law enforcement, corrections officers, and other state employees to ensure that they secure detained individuals with a safety seat belt system while being transported. To protect our law enforcement officers and state employees, the legislation will include an exception if doing so would put the officer or employee at risk of death or serious bodily injury.
The Connecticut House of Representatives recently passed legislation requiring the state’s Police Officer Standards and Training Council to create a statewide policy mandating seat belt usage for suspects and requiring police to be trained to ensure suspects are safely secured while in transit. Individuals who are being transported by law enforcement deserve to be treated with a basic regard for their safety, and officers have a constitutional duty to protect individuals who are in their custody.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation to ensure that Pennsylvania protects those individuals whom we take responsibility for to prevent further avoidable tragedies.