Brown introduces package of laws to protect law enforcement

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 28 – After Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald was slain in the line of duty, state Rep. Amen Brown, D-Phila., will introduce a package of bills that seeks to protect police officers from violence while they perform their duty to protect and serve throughout the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“Officer Fitzgerald was bravely serving his community by patrolling a high crime area when he was gunned down with no clear motive,” Brown said. “We cannot sit idly by and watch those who put on the badge and uniform to protect us, placing themselves between us and danger, die at the hands of those who would do them harm.” 

Brown said that the responsibility lies with elected officials to make sure police officers are operating in the safest ways possible.  

There are four bills in Brown’s proposed package:  

  • The first bill would require that officers be accompanied by a partner whenever working in a critical crime area, as defined by the attorney general. It would ensure officers are better protected from those who would do them harm. 
  • The second bill would require that all officers wear at minimum non-expired level IIIA body armor while on duty to better protect them from firearms. 
  • The third bill would create a grant program to provide funding to municipalities to install audible gunshot detection technology in areas with high rates of firearm violence. 
  • The fourth bill would authorize the use of technology that facilitates the review of video data -- a process that currently is oftentimes protracted and takes numerous days to accomplish – to expedite investigation of incidents involving serious bodily injuries and identifies those who perpetrated the act.
  • To ensure there is not abuse of this medium, the police commissioner, chief of police or their designee would have to provide written (or digital) authorization.  

For example, Brown said, audible gunshot detection technology helps to immediately alert law enforcement when shots are fired, leading to faster response times, and helping to mitigate the chance of responders losing their lives to any further senseless violence. 

Brown said that Fitzgerald was patrolling alone at the time of his murder, in an area that experienced several recent robberies and carjackings.

In fact, three persons were shot less than three blocks away from the site of Fitzgerald’s murder while his family and friends visited the location.

“No officer should have to patrol alone,” Brown said. ” The proposed legislation will ensure that this, along with the provision of additional resources, is prioritized. Protecting those who protect us is a must, not an option.”