HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Wolf held a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce sweeping police reforms in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
The reforms are based on the 21st Century Policing Task Force, which was created in 2015 under the Obama administration.
Some of those recommendations are:
- Creation of a Deputy Inspector General within the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) focused on deterring, detecting, preventing, and eradicating fraud, waste, misconduct, and abuse amongst law enforcement agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction.
- Creation of a Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Advisory Commission that reviews allegations of misconduct by law enforcement personnel under the governor’s jurisdiction.
- Providing technical assistance to municipalities from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to encourage the creation of local citizen advisory boards.
- Creation of a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Subcommittee under the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) at PCCD.
- Reviewing Training and Education of Officers. All training academies for law enforcement must review current use of force training standards for law enforcement and form a workgroup to develop model training standards to ensure that all officers receive the best instruction in their interactions with the public. Departments should be striving to obtain state and or national accreditation. Accreditation is a key component in assisting departments in evaluation and improvement of their standards and practices.
- Enhancing Officer Safety and Wellness. Enhancing current mental health initiatives and offering targeted mental health supports for officers to deal with trauma and reduce stigma for getting help.
- Supporting Legislative Reforms. The governor will work with the legislature on reforms, including legislation proposed that provides for improved access to police videos, an oversight board for officer training and continuing education, a special prosecutor in deadly force cases, interdepartmental law enforcement hiring reform and PTSD evaluation for police officers.Earlier this week, members of the Police Reform
- Working Group, which includes state and local elected officials, the chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, as well as several attorneys, put forward proposals to address growing frustration with racism, oppression and rooting out law enforcement misconduct.
The governor says he is also directing all law enforcement academies across the state to review their training, especially for the use of force.
In addition, he said he will help all Pennsylvania municipalities to create citizens police advisory boards, in addition to the one he is planning for the state level.
“We must rise to the challenge because too many people have lost faith in our public safety institutions and in our institutions in general. We must double our efforts to earn the trust of everyone we serve
The State Police Troopers Association responded to the governor’s announcement.
The full statement reads:
“What happened to George Floyd was horrific and wrong. There isn’t a single state trooper who disagrees. But what Gov. Wolf is saying today is the Pennsylvania State Police, and all law enforcement in our commonwealth, are no better than those charged with Mr. Floyd’s death. This was clear when he ignored his own order and marched in Harrisburg this week during a pandemic with people holding signs that read, ‘Blue Lives Murder.’
“So, here is a message to the people of Pennsylvania: Troopers go to work every day knowing they may not return home to our loved ones. This is a sacrifice we accept because we have sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the commonwealth and the United States, without any consideration of class, color, creed or condition. We live by this oath and are dedicated to protecting you, our fellow citizens, and the rule of law. And that will never change.”
Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association President Larry Blackwell issued this statement Friday:
“The members of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association courageously go to work each day to keep the peace in some of the most dangerous facilities anywhere — and they perform their jobs with integrity. Our members are already subject to a strict disciplinary system that holds everyone accountable for their behavior. While the Governor moves forward in his attempts at policing reforms, we must remember the outstanding law enforcement officers throughout the commonwealth who risk their lives each day to keep Pennsylvania’s families safe and, equally important, the victims of crime.
“Gov. Wolf’s own Department of Corrections found that last year, 1,768 violent crimes were committed by parolees. More than 100 parolees committed felonies, including murder. These statistics are not disputed. Just last fall, stories in the media revealed in a span of two months, five parolees committed six murders, including two children under the age 8 and an off duty Pittsburgh police officer. We cannot forget about these victims and their families.”