Pa. state troopers’ union slams Gov. Wolf’s law enforcement reforms

"What Gov. Wolf is saying is the Pennsylvania State Police, and all law enforcement in our commonwealth, are no better than those charged with Mr. Floyd’s death."

  • By Greg Pickel/PennLive

Gov. Tom Wolf’s new and lengthy list of reforms for law enforcement in Pennsylvania already has at least one critic: The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association.

Wolf announced Thursday a number of initiatives he would like to see created, implemented, or reviewed in the state in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man from Minnesota who died in police custody last week.

Four officers have been charged in that case, including Derek Chauvin, who is facing counts of second-degree murder and also manslaughter. Three other officers who did not intervene as Chauvin restrained Floyd with his knee despite pleas from the latter that he could not breathe were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

The list of reforms from Wolf include, per a press release:

  • Creation of a Deputy Inspector General within the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) focused on deterring, detecting, preventing and eradicating fraud, waste, misconduct and abuse amongst law enforcement agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction.
  • Creation of a Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Advisory Commission that reviews allegations of misconduct by law enforcement personnel under the governor’s jurisdiction.
  • Providing technical assistance to municipalities from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to encourage the creation of local citizen advisory boards.
  • Creation of a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Subcommittee under the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) at PCCD.
  • Reviewing Training and Education of Officers. All training academies for law enforcement must review current use of force training standards for law enforcement and form a workgroup to develop model training standards to ensure that all officers receive the best instruction in their interactions with the public. Departments should be striving to obtain state and or national accreditation. Accreditation is a key component in assisting departments in evaluation and improvement of their standards and practices.
  • Enhancing Officer Safety and Wellness. Enhancing current mental health initiatives and offering targeted mental health supports for officers to deal with trauma and reduce stigma for getting help.
  • Supporting Legislative Reforms. The governor will work with the legislature on reforms, including legislation proposed that provides for improved access to police videos, an oversight board for officer training and continuing education, a special prosecutor in deadly force cases, interdepartmental law enforcement hiring reform and PTSD evaluation for police officers.

During a news conference, Wolf signaled that he hoped some of his proposals would be acted on quickly while acknowledging others would take time.

Don’t count PSTA President David Kennedy as a fan.

“What happened to George Floyd was horrific and wrong,” Kennedy said in a statement. “There isn’t a single state trooper who disagrees. But what Gov. Wolf is saying today is the Pennsylvania State Police, and all law enforcement in our commonwealth, are no better than those charged with Mr. Floyd’s death. This was clear when he ignored his own order and marched in Harrisburg this week during a pandemic with people holding signs that read, ‘Blue Lives Murder.’”

Asked to respond to Kennedy’s words, Wolf, who marched in a rally against injustice and gun violence in downtown Harrisburg Wednesday, said he couldn’t control the signs that other protesters had but also said that he does not condone one saying ‘Blue Lives Murder.’

“This is not an effort to point a finger, it’s an effort to, as I say, build trust,” Wolf said.

Added Kennedy:

“So, here is a message to the people of Pennsylvania: Troopers go to work every day knowing they may not return home to our loved ones. This is a sacrifice we accept because we have sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the commonwealth and the United States, without any consideration of class, color, creed or condition. We live by this oath and are dedicated to protecting you, our fellow citizens, and the rule of law. And that will never change.”

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