Philadelphia House Delegation leaders welcome Gov. Wolf’s action on police reform and accountability
PHILADELPHIA, June 4 – Leaders of the House Philadelphia Delegation today praised Gov. Tom Wolf for acting on concerns raised by delegation members and Philadelphia public officials.
On the heels of public protests in Philadelphia and across the nation following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Wolf today outlined a proposal to improve law enforcement relations with the community and strengthen training and accountability, especially as it relates to institutional racial targeting and discrimination by law enforcement.
“Since May 25, the day a bad police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while other bad police officers stood by and did nothing, the nation and world have risen up in protest to say enough is enough and demand change,” said Philadelphia Delegation Chairman Jason Dawkins, D-Phila. “Today, Governor Wolf has set Pennsylvania on a course to making that happen. I thank the governor for hearing our collective voices and working with us to address the concerns of the unheard. I am proud of the work that has been done by the Police Reform Working Group, who started working on these reforms long before Mr. Floyd sadly took his last breath.”
The Police Reform Working Group, of which Dawkins is a member, includes state and local elected lawmakers, the chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, as well as several attorneys. Earlier this week the working group put forward several proposals to address law enforcement misconduct and police-community relations.
Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, also a member of the working group, said, "The swift actions by the governor is a welcome start to reforming the way our police interact with those they are sworn to protect and serve. As a part of The Police Reform Working Group, I vow to keep fighting for safer communities, especially when GOP leadership refuses to give our reform legislation any acknowledgement in the state Capitol."
"The last five days, not only in this City but across the state, have shown the immediate need for reform in the way the police interact with our communities," said Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, who serves as delegation secretary. "That has been apparent to us for far longer. The governor's actions are a welcome start. The world that we have been fighting for- one where healthy, fully funded schools, healthcare, and housing for all are realities, one where our government serves people over profits, where our neighborhoods experience safety without trauma and injustice- the only way that world is possible is if we dismantle the structural racism that upholds the current systems. I’m a white woman, and there are things I will never understand about the horrible, brutal cost of living under white supremacy, but I know that the fight to end it is my fight too.”
Wolf’s actions, which cover recommendations from the working group, Philadelphia delegation leaders and the 21st Century Police Task Force created under President Obama, include:
- Creation of a Deputy Inspector General within the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) focused on deterring, detecting, preventing and eradicating fraud, waste, misconduct and abuse amongst law enforcement agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction.
- Creation of a Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Advisory Commission that reviews allegations of misconduct by law enforcement personnel under the governor’s jurisdiction.
- Providing technical assistance to municipalities from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to encourage the creation of local citizen advisory boards.
- Creation of a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Subcommittee under the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) at PCCD.
- Reviewing Training and Education of Officers. All training academies for law enforcement must review current use of force training standards for law enforcement and form a workgroup to develop model training standards to ensure that all officers receive the best instruction in their interactions with the public. Departments should be striving to obtain state and or national accreditation. Accreditation is a key component in assisting departments in evaluation and improvement of their standards and practices.
- Enhancing Officer Safety and Wellness. Enhancing current mental health initiatives and offering targeted mental health supports for officers to deal with trauma and reduce stigma for getting help.
- Supporting Legislative Reforms. The governor will work with the legislature on reforms, including legislation proposed that provides for improved access to police videos, an oversight board for officer training and continuing education, a special prosecutor in deadly force cases, interdepartmental law enforcement hiring reform and PTSD evaluation for police officers.
Wolf also said he was committed to addressing the institutional inequalities against people of color in education and economic and business development.