Police Reform Working Group issues statement on House Republican Policy hearing on law enforcement; calls for further legislative action

HARRISBURG, Aug. 27 – The Police Reform Working Group, a collection of local and state elected officials and advocates, issued the following statement in response to a Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee hearing on law enforcement interactions with the community:

“We appreciate the House Republican Policy Committee shining a light on how law enforcement interacts with communities around the state. This is a necessary discussion that is long overdue and it’s encouraging to hear presenters today acknowledge that police reform is necessary.

“George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and now, sadly, Jacob Blake are names that have become rallying cries due to brutal misconduct that has led to two deaths and one citizen shot seven times in the back in front of his children. This is why protesters have taken to the streets. This is why we are focused more than ever before on true police reform in Pennsylvania. These national events can and do happen here, such as in the tragic death of Antwon Rose in East Pittsburgh.

“This summer, we made progress on true police reform when Governor Tom Wolf signed into law legislation that creates a statewide database on police misconduct, increases racial and socioeconomic sensitivity training and mandates Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder screenings when an officer is involved in a lethal use-of-force incident. But this is not enough. More action is necessary in the legislature.

“We must enact a statewide use-of-force policy and reform how arbitration works through Act 111. Law enforcement officials agree that Act 111 makes it too difficult to remove officers who dishonor the badge and the communities they’re supposed to protect through acts of misconduct. We look forward to pushing for these changes this fall and hope today’s hearing acts as a springboard to increase awareness of the utmost importance of continuing the work on police reform.”