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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 9, 2020 03:53 PM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: 8 Can’t Wait
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce Senate Bill 1020 from the 2019-2020 legislative session. I hope you will join me in sponsoring this overdue legislation.
For too long we have allowed our citizens of color to live in fear that their lives would be taken by those who are sworn to protect them.  No black or brown person should ever have to fear they will be murdered by a member of law enforcement while in their home, while walking down the street, while shopping at a store, or while driving to their mother’s house.  While recent murders have raised awareness, incidents like these are unfortunately not new.  The time to act is now.

For too long we have ignored the racialized character of police violence and the growing body of research that shows the risk of being killed by police is largely predicated on one’s race.
According to data from Mapping Police Violence, this year alone more than 1,000 unarmed people nationwide have died as a result of police harm.  Black people represent 28% of those killed, yet only represent 13% of the population. This appears consistent with a 2019  collaborative research article by Rutgers University, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Michigan, that found one in every 1,000 black men face a risk of being killed by police, while white men face a risk of about 39 for every 100,000.

For too long we have tolerated policies that do little to nothing to prevent these atrocious instances of police violence.  The recent deaths of unarmed black and brown people have only highlighted the need to address these systematically unfair and inadequate policies.  We need comprehensive reform of these policies to force the change people across the nation demand and deserve.

A 2016 study entitled “Examining the Role of Use of Force Policies in Ending Police Violence,” found that the implementation of eight specific use of force policies “would kill 72% fewer people on average than [police] departments with none of these policies in place.”

My proposal would create a more explicit and just standard for the use of force by police.  Included in this standard would be:
  • Requiring the exhaustion of all reasonable alternatives before using force;
  • Requiring the use of force be reported, including when force has been threatened but not used;
  • Banning chokeholds and strangleholds;
  • Establishing a use of force continuum that limits the type of force and weapons that can be used for specific types of resistance;
  • Requiring the use of de-escalation measures prior to the use of force;
  • Establishing a duty to intervene and stop excessive force by another officer, as well as immediately reporting incidents to a supervisor;
  • Banning shooting at a moving vehicle; and,
  • Requiring a warning be given prior to the use of fatal force. 
Please contact Veronica Miller in my office with any questions.

Introduced as SB45