Philly Set Go Hosts Police Reform Working Group Meeting
Back in June, we wrote an open letter on police reform and social justice and shared how important it was to stand alongside our Black and Brown neighbors and community members. On September 10, the Police Reform Working Group, a collection of local and state elected officials, and Philly Set Go hosted a conversation about what has been done and the efforts that still need to be pushed through.
Invigorated by the civil justice protesters, the Pennsylvania Black Caucus pushed the legislature to finally act. In 40 days, bills that were on the books for years were finally on the floor. On July 14th, two bills were signed by Governor Tom Wolf. The first bill requires mental health evaluations with a focus on the impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) of law enforcement officers as a condition of continued employment. The bill also requires training for police officers on trauma-informed care, use of deadly force, de-escalation and harm reduction techniques, community and cultural awareness, implicit bias, procedural justice, and reconciliation techniques.
The second bill creates a Police Misconduct database and requires a thorough background check for law enforcement applicants prior to being employed and requires a law enforcement agency to disclose employment information. The bill also establishes an electronic database housed and maintained by the Municipal Police Officers’ Training and Education Training Commission (MPOTEC) that contains separation records of law enforcement officers.
Additional representatives and the council members agree there is still more work to be done, specifically around collective bargaining. Councilmember Gilmore-Richardson introduced a bill to bring public comment to labor contracts. Right now, the city brings the contract to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the FOP counters and if no agreement is reached, there is arbitration from Act 111. Any decision which comes out of arbitration cannot be contested. if passed, the law would enable the public to comment before the mayor’s office sends the contract to the FOP. As of now, every issue contested by the FOP has to go through mediation, which ultimately resides within the FOP. We support reforms involving collective bargaining that empower citizens to be active participants in the process.
If you needed another reason to vote in November, there will be two questions on the ballot: one pertaining to banning stop and frisk in Philadelphia, and the second on whether the city oversight commission should replace the police advisory commission.
We invite you to continue advocating for #betterpolitics and governance and also to write or call your elected officials in support of the reforms outlined.