HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Pennsylvania is taking a first step toward responding to cries for police reform. The bipartisan action comes amid the unrest over the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police.
The calls for police reform and accountability are being heard loud and clear as thousands of protesters continue to demonstrate in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth.
State legislators in Harrisburg are hearing the calls and taking historic action.
“A lot of this would have not been brought to the forefront if we didn’t have our brothers and sisters of all races coming together on a unified front and saying enough is enough,” State Rep. Jason Dawkins said.
Two bills addressing police reform have moved out of the state House and into the Senate, before heading for Gov. Tom Wolf’s approval.
“We’ll look at mental health evaluations for law enforcement officers every other year and/or within 30 days of the use of deadly force,” Rep. Jordan Harris said.
Not only will an officer’s mental health be addressed but legislators want to create a tracking system for misconduct.
“This database creates an opportunity for misconducts to be filed so that when a police officer goes to a different department, the information follows him,” Harris said.
Both bills received unanimous support in the House, but state representatives say this is just the beginning on a long road to statewide police reform.
“We have to address use of force policies, we have to address making law enforcement officers mandated reporters. If a teacher sees abuse, a teacher has to report it,” Harris said.
“Today is a historic day for us in Pennsylvania because we have not had any movement on any of these bills in a very, very long time,” Dawkins said.
The State Senate is expected to vote on the police reform legislation next week.