Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania State Police recently announced 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,” said Wolf. “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, established by the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission, will contain information on law enforcement officers who have a history of criminal charges or discipline for actions ranging from excessive force to discrimination. It will be used to enhance the background investigation process for the hiring of law enforcement officers.
Additionally, for the first time in the state’s history, law enforcement agencies are required to maintain and provide all employment records, including performance evaluations and reasons for separation, pertaining to a previously employed law enforcement officer to a prospective hiring agency.
“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,” said Col. Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “I would like to thank the MPOETC commissioners, staff, information technology personnel, and members of the PSP who worked tirelessly to ensure the database was operational by July 14.”
The database was created as a result of Act 57 of 2020, which was unanimously approved in the General Assembly and signed by Wolf on July 14, 2020. It required MPOETC to develop a database to hold separation records of all law enforcement officers in the commonwealth as defined as peace officers. As required by law, on July 14, 2021, the database was operational and temporary regulations went into effect.
“The database is up and running, every department must participate, and it will save lives,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “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.”
The development of permanent regulations will occur over the next year in accordance with the Regulatory Review Act and are required to be completed by March 2023. During this time, MPOETC will seek input and feedback from stakeholders and the public. In addition, MPOETC will use this time to test and refine the database and associated regulations to ensure compliance in carrying out the purposes of Act 57.
The database will contain more than 1,300 agencies and approximately 30,000 to 35,000 officers. Pennsylvania State Police Troopers and Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement Officers are included. Currently, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there are 1,063 municipal law enforcement agencies with more than 22,000 officers.