Readshaw police background bill approved in committee

HARRISBURG, June 15 – A measure requiring law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough background investigation on potential new hires was approved by the state House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Harry Readshaw announced.

Readshaw, D-Allegheny, said H.B. 1841 would require law enforcement agencies to conduct the investigation on an applicant for employment as a police officer or for a position leading to employment as a police officer before the applicant can be hired. It also compels a candidate’s present or former employers to disclose such information. This includes both law enforcement agencies and all other types of employers.

“While an individual must undergo a background check to be certified as a municipal police officer with the Municipal Police Officers’ Training and Education Committee, what some might not know is that a law enforcement agency is not required by law to turn over employment history on a present or former employee to another agency looking to hire that officer. Law enforcement agencies often fear civil liability in turning over this information,” Readshaw said.

“This is a problem, because the hiring agency might not know about past misconduct at other law enforcement agencies or other job positions. I am pleased that my bill is moving forward because employers will be protected from liability for disclosing employment information in good faith, and police departments will be able to get the full picture regarding a police officer candidate’s background when making hiring decisions.”

In addition, the committee voted to include an amendment by state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila.) to require the MPOETC to maintain a database containing criminal charges and substantiated allegations against police officers. An applicant for a position as a police officer would have to sign a waiver permitting the agency to which he has applied to use MPOETC to retrieve this information. A law enforcement agency would still be able to hire an officer with a red flag against them but would have to provide an explanation for doing so.