Schlossberg statement regarding Allentown police video

ALLENTOWN, July 12 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg issued the following statement regarding a disturbing video showing Allentown police.

“I was on Facebook late last night when I saw the video in my newsfeed. Like everyone who watched it, I was horrified. You can’t help but see a video like that and not immediately leap to the worst conclusions.

“I appreciate the mayor and chief's support of an investigation and promise to keep the community informed. I am confident the city administration will take the appropriate actions concerning the officer’s duty status until the investigation is completed.

“There is no question that an investigation into the actions depicted is needed, and I say this for multiple reasons.

“First, the residents of Allentown, the community as a whole, and the individual on the ground deserve nothing short of the full and complete picture of the events depicted. It is only through an investigation that this truth can be obtained and any consequences can be determined.

“Second, please remember that there are legal reasons an investigation is required. The Allentown Police and mayor cannot take certain actions without exposing the city and department to expensive legal consequences - consequences that could further cost an already cash-strapped city. The city must investigate before making any long-term actions.

“Third, and maybe most important: An investigation isn't just for the accused and aggrieved parties. It's for the city as a whole. The community deserves to know more than just what happened. We should know what led to the actions we saw in the video and get a better idea of what circumstances led to the actions depicted. We should know why the man was on the ground in the first place and why the police needed to be called. And we should use that information to determine how we need to adjust state and local policies to prevent something like this from happening again.

“On a personal level, I want to know what we can do at the state level. I've been arguing for years that we desperately need to increase our investment in mental health services. A full investigation may help sharpen the conversation about how we need to improve state policies.

“The protestors last night were chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ for a reason. You'd have to be heartless to not hear the pain and anger in their voices, or the trauma in the voice of the man in the video saying, ‘I thought we mattered.’ I can’t unhear his voice.

“The state legislature passed some good laws in the past week. They aren’t nearly enough. There's more work we need to do. We must increase investments in community and mental health services to prevent people from becoming victims of crime in the first place. Further, I fully support the package proposed by members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus which includes the following reforms:

  • Ending qualified immunity
  • Establishing an independent review process for any use of force that results in death or serious injury
  • Mandating the reporting of law enforcement misconduct or corruption

“Allentown is part of a national story about strained relations between police and community members. It further puts the onus on us, at the state, to develop policies that can repair those relations and rebuild that trust.”