House votes to strengthen police, community relationships

‘Protect and Serve Initiative’ passes with unanimous support

As law enforcement, community members and elected officials engage in conversations around the country about how to grow the relationships among residents and the officers sworn to protect and serve them, the House advanced a multi-faceted plan to assist in those efforts.

“Issues that challenge our time are best addressed when every voice involved has a seat at the table,” said Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster). “These bills are a reflection of that process. Hearing from law enforcement, community leaders and residents of our communities, this package takes strides to make our communities safer and promotes trust in the officers we rely on.

“For centuries, this chamber has never shied away from acting on the calls from the people of our Commonwealth. Our swift actions in response to current events shows the greatness of our body and the success we can achieve when our processes are used appropriately and collaboratively to serve the greater good of Pennsylvania.”

House Bill 1841 would require a thorough background investigation on an applicant for employment as a law enforcement officer, including a review of the applicant’s employment information and separation records from prior law enforcement employment before the applicant may be employed. It would also require the establishment and maintenance of an electronic database containing separation records of law enforcement officers for use by other law enforcement agencies when hiring certified law enforcement officers.

House Bill 1910 would require the training of officers on interacting with individuals of diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds; implicit bias training; recognizing and reporting child abuse; and annual training on the use of appropriate force. In addition, the bill would establish better access to mental health evaluations for law enforcement officers.

Both bills received endorsements from the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association and passed the House by votes of 201-0. The legislation advances to the Senate for further consideration.