HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Wolf announced in a press conference with Pa. State Police on Friday the launch of a new electronic database for use by law enforcement agencies in the hiring of law enforcement officers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“This is an important tool for our law enforcement agencies. It will help agencies identify potential red flags in candidates, which helps agencies invest in better employees they’ll want to train and retain and keep officers with a history of misconduct away from roles where they can cause further harm,” Gov. Wolf said. “Law enforcement reform is crucial to improving public safety. This, along with the reforms my administration has implemented over the past year, will make our commonwealth safer for everyone.”
The database was established by the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC), with the ability to keep information on officers who have a history of criminal charges or discipline for actions ranging from excessive force to discrimination. The goal of it is to enhance the background investigation process for hiring officers.
“The database established by MPOETC is an added tool to assist in the hiring process of law enforcement personnel who are ultimately held to a higher standard of professionalism throughout the commonwealth,” Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police said. “I would like to thank all of the MPOETC commissioners, staff, information technology personnel, and members of the PSP who worked tirelessly to ensure the database was operational by July 14.”
Governor Wolf approved the creation of the database in 2020 after Pa. legislation unanimously passed Act 57 of 2020. That required MPOETC to create a database to hold separation records of all law enforcement officers in Pa. defined as peace officers.
On July 14, 2021, the database was operational and temporary regulations went into effect, as mandated by law.
“The database is up and running, every department must participate, and it will save lives,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “This is a down payment on reform, one of many steps we need to take to fulfill the promise of safety and the promise of justice, so that every Pennsylvanian can be, and can feel, safe in their own community.”
Permanent regulation development will happen throughout the next year in accordance with the Regulatory Review Act. It is required to be finished by March 2023. MPOETC will be taking input from stakeholders and the public during the process while they test and refine.
The database will have more than 1,300 agencies and about 30,000-35,000 officers.
“We’re not perfect. We recognize we have a few ‘bad apples’ in our bunch, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we want those bad apples out too. We want to continue to do the things we need to do, to restore a reputation that has been tarnished over the past year or so, by the actions of those few thoughtless individuals. We want to nurture that public trust that once again fosters faith in local law enforcement and inspires little girls and boys to become police officers,” York City Police Chief Michael Muldrow said.
“I commend Governor Wolf, our legislators and the commission for taking these first steps — with the changes found in Act 57, the new database and the reporting requirements that come with it. It will undoubtedly help to fill in some of the cracks those individuals have been able to slip through. We’re going to take it from there, pushing to be best versions of ourselves, not because it’s mandated, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Muldrow said.