Williams’ bill to help recruit more police officers heads to governor

HARRISBURG, Dec.14 – A bill that would help address Pennsylvania’s shortage of police officers, passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is heading to the governor’s desk for his signature.

House Bill 863, authored by state Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester, would reduce the physical fitness standards required for enrollment in a municipal police academy in cities of the first class for five years. However, the previous standards still would have to be met to be employed as a police officer.

The bill also would update outdated reading comprehension standards that have made recruitment more difficult and imbalanced statewide.

A 2021 national survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum showed a 45% increase in retirements and an 18% increase in resignations over the previous year. Additionally, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Pennsylvania has around 1,300 open positions across the state.

The bill addresses this by requiring the Joint State Government Commission to issue a report to the General Assembly on the impact the current standards for physical fitness, psychological evaluation and education may have on recruitment, education and training of police officers across the state.

“Vacancies in the local police hurt our communities and put us all at risk,” Williams said. “This measure will give our local police departments a tool to help solve their vacancies, but is only a piece of the puzzle as we need to do more.”

Williams represents the 74th Legislative District comprised of Atglen, Coatesville, Honey Brook Borough, Honey Brook Township, Modena, Parkesburg, Sadsbury, South Coatesville, Valley, West Caln, West Sadsbury and Districts 1, 2 and 3 of Caln in Chester County.