Matzie: House passes police reform bills to improve officer hiring, training

HARRISBURG, June 24 – The House today unanimously passed two bills that would improve policing in the commonwealth by ensuring hiring agencies have full access to a candidate’s background information and by enhancing officer training, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced.

“These are common-sense bills that set us on the path to real reform,” said Matzie, who said he voted for both bills because they promise to improve law enforcement’s ability to hire and maintain the best-qualified people for the job.

Matzie said
H.B. 1841 would require employers to disclose employment information to law enforcement agencies conducting background checks and also create a database to track officer disciplinary actions so agencies would be aware of potential red flags before hiring an officer who has separated from another agency.

“Most employers conduct background checks,” Matzie said. “In an area as critical as law enforcement, it’s only practical that important information would be included in those checks.”

Matzie said a second bill,
H.B. 1910, would require mandatory training for officers on interacting with people of diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds and on the use of force and de-escalation methods. It would also require officers to be evaluated for post-traumatic stress after a lethal use-of-force incident.

“Police officers have a difficult job,” Matzie said. “We give them an enormous responsibility. Part of any reform effort should include making sure that they have the training, tools and support they need to do the job well.”

Both bills now head to the state Senate for consideration.