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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 29, 2018 03:59 PM
From: Senator Jay Costa
To: All Senate members
Subject: Initiatives to Improve Policing and Community Relations
In the wake of tragic officer-involved shootings across the commonwealth, and the nation, I am developing and will be introducing legislation to address these situations. I believe it is important that the General Assembly develop and enact legislation that provides improved training for police to know when to use force, particularly deadly force.

Additionally, it is important that our police receive additional training to promote better relations with the communities they police. Finally, it is important to make available enhanced mental health services to our police and community members. To this end, I am proposing legislation to do the following:
  • Create specialized units to respond to crisis situations, including officer-involved shootings, to provide immediate access to mental health counseling for police and community members;
  • Develop a statewide database to permit transparency in the hiring of police officers; the database will include any disciplinary actions, misconduct or discriminatory policing complaints lodged against law enforcement personnel;
  • Require MPOETC to develop a uniform policy on the use of force and deadly force by police officers and direct municipalities that lack such policies to adopt and post the MPOETC uniform policy and require annual updates and training for police officers;
  • Create a bipartisan legislative caucus on cultural awareness in policing that can study police activities and make recommendations on improving community police relationships;
  • Improve Municipal Police Officer Training to include the following:
    • Enhanced classroom and field training on cultural awareness for police recruits and during police training;
    • Direct in the training and recertification curriculum, psychological counseling for police officers who may be suffering from PTSD or other similar issues. MPOETC would develop a statewide standard.
    • Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.