Harrisburg -- In light of nationwide protests this week, Attorney General Josh Shapiro assembled a group of law enforcement officials and union leaders from across Pennsylvania to discuss police hiring reforms. The group announced support for making sure that law enforcement agencies avoid hiring officers with documented patterns of excessive use of force and other misconduct.
The group included:
- Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw
- Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert
- FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby
- President of the Pennsylvania State Lodge FOP Les Neri
- Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association
- Leaders in the Chiefs of Police Abington Chief of Police Patrick Molloy
- Peters Township Chief of Police Douglas Grimes
“After listening to the community and law enforcement leaders, I saw there was common ground on this issue and worked to bring people together,” said Attorney General Shapiro. "Millions are peacefully demanding change in our country and we need to show them we’re listening. This is a down payment on the kinds of reforms we need to deliver, and I’m calling on the General Assembly to pass legislation. Community trust is vital for law enforcement, but trust is built through listening and then acting.”
The group issued the following joint statement on Thursday:
“Officers who engage in misconduct or use excessive force erode trust in law enforcement and make it harder for our communities to be and feel safe. When they leave an agency, or retire in lieu of termination, that record needs to go with them. We stand united in calling for reform of the hiring process so that law enforcement agencies have the information to make informed decisions about the personnel they hire.”
Typically when a law enforcement agency calls an officer's previous employer to ask about the officer's history, information about complaints and disciplinary issues are not disclosed. In many cases, hiring departments do not even bother requesting records, leaving them unaware of a prospective employee's history.
To solve this problem, AG Shapiro and the group he gathered are requesting that the General Assembly pass legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to keep detailed personnel records that include substantiated complaints and reasons and circumstances surrounding the separation of each officer. The records would be filed in a registry that law enforcement agencies can search through and review while making hiring decisions.
Versions of such legislation have been submitted to the Pennsylvania House and Senate by Representative Chris Rabb and Senator Jay Costa. A similar bill has also been introduced to the federal government.