HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — One day after joining protests in Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf announced law enforcement reform throughout the commonwealth and how to best manage this period of strife in Pennsylvania.
The governor began Thursday’s press briefing with a moment of silence for George Floyd before addressing the current climate of the commonwealth and the unrest that has driven the protests.
“Right now our resolve is being tested,” Wolf said.
The governor then discussed steps that his administration will be taking to reform policing in Pennsylvania. The reforms he laid out, call for reviewing police training curricula, which includes determining the use of force standards. Standardized testing and best practices for verbal de-escalation methods, trauma-centered approaches, mental health first aid, and implicit bias training will also be implemented.
Wolf said the reforms are based on a 21st century policing report by former President Barack Obama and was co-chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will be tasked with assisting municipalities to develop ‘Citizen Police Advisory Boards’, which will address police action that leads to injury or death, as well as a panel to examine racial and ethnic disparity.
The governor recalled garnering bipartisan support for previous criminal justice reform and is looking at holding that same support this time as well.
“This is about the broad system of inequities that have sustained racism in the United States and Pennsylvania for too many centuries,” Wolf said.
In a news release, the Wolf Administration outlined the following reforms it anticipates implementing:
- 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 to encourage the creation of local citizen advisory boards.
- Creation of a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Subcommittee under the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee 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 the 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.