Police Reform Working Group releases statement on progress toward reform

PHILADELPHIA, June 4 – The Police Reform Working Group, a collection of elected officials and advocates working to bring accountability and transparency reforms to law enforcement, released the following statement on Gov. Tom Wolf’s adoption today of their request for a state-level deputy inspector general aimed at improving law enforcement conduct, as well as Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s, along with the Fraternal Order of Police’s, support of a confidential database to track complaints against police officers:

“First and foremost, we’re incredibly appreciative that barely 48 hours after our announcement of much-needed reforms to improve how law enforcement interacts with our communities, Governor Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro and law enforcement groups around the state have heard our call and taken action and shown support.

“The creation of a deputy inspector general at the state level to root out misconduct, brutality, waste, fraud and abuse within law enforcement agencies is a key first step in this fight. With greater knowledge comes greater ability to protect our communities and ensure that the good members of law enforcement can do their job without having their reputation damaged by dishonest members of law enforcement.

“Furthermore, this level of support for the creation of a confidential database within the Attorney General’s office to track complaints against law enforcement officers to ensure pariah police with a checkered past can’t simply move from department to department is a massive step forward in public safety. This will protect all stakeholders by preventing municipalities from hiring a police officer with a history of misconduct. It will protect law enforcement members who honor their badge and duty from working with those with a history of racist or violent behavior. It will protect the community from inheriting police officers who have already been fired from another department for bad behavior. There is no downside to this.

“Over the past few days, the voices of all Pennsylvanians have been heard loud and clear. The long history of racial injustices black and brown communities have been subjected to must no longer stand. Our communities have had enough, and the time is now to demand action statewide to bring systematic change to Pennsylvania.

“While this is a major first step, it is just that: a first step. Completion of the reform plan we’ve outlined will be a long journey, but it is a journey that necessitates completion. We can’t move on from the injustices of the past that continue today without healing those wounds and creating a more equitable future. We look forward to continuing to work with all levels of government to ensure these reforms come to fruition.”

House Bill 1666, introduced by Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila. and member of the House Judiciary Committee, would create the confidential database within the attorney general’s office. The bill is currently awaiting action in the House Judiciary Committee.

Members of the group include:

  • House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris
  • House Democratic Chairwoman Joanna McClinton
  • House Philadelphia Delegation Chairman Jason Dawkins
  • Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Stephen Kinsey
  • State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila.
  • State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila.
  • State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila.
  • State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny.
  • State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny.
  • State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila.
  • State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny.
  • State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila.
  • State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny.
  • Philadelphia Councilmember-At-Large Kendra Brooks.
  • Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson.
  • Philadelphia Councilmember-At-Large Katherine Gilmore Richardson.
  • Philadelphia Councilmember-At-Large Isaiah Thomas.
  • Keir Bradford-Grey, Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia.
  • Attorney Kevin Harden Jr.
  • Attorney Kevin Mincey, Mincey Fitzpatrick Ross, LLC.