State Police Release Response to Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Citizens’ Advisory Commission Recommendations

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) today announced its responses to recent recommendations made by the Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizens’ Advisory Commission. In December, the Commission approved recommendations relating to police-involved shootings, other uses of force, and bias-based policing.

“I want to thank the members of the Commission for their dedication and commitment to this process,” Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick said. “PSP looks forward to working with the Commission to further improve our department’s service to citizens of the Commonwealth.

The Commission has three committees responsible for reviewing the results of completed internal investigations to determine whether they were fair, impartial, complete and conducted in accordance with applicable policies.

Below is a summary of each committee’s recommendations and PSP’s response:

Use of Force Review Committee

Committee Recommendations: That the Pennsylvania State Police: (1) strengthen its use of force policy to include, among other things, enhanced definitions to clarify the use of an objective standard of reasonableness, strengthen de-escalation, and additional training following use of force incidents, mandatory reporting of certain use of force incidents and specific guidelines detailing a use of force spectrum; (2) continue efforts to procure mobile video recorder (MVR) systems that include various options for interview room recorders and body-worn cameras; (3) consider improvements to its policies relating to the transportation of juvenile and other offenders for civil enforcement purposes; and (4) consider purchasing additional permanently installed safety shields or “cage cars”.

PSP response: (1) PSP will refine the definition and language of the term “reasonable belief” and take the recommendation under advisement for further improvement. (2) PSP is actively engaged in the purchase of body-worn cameras, as this has been a priority for current command personnel for several years. (3) PSP recognizes that the regulations relating to the transport and handcuffing of minors can be improved for greater clarity and will update the regulations accordingly. (4) PSP agrees that protective barriers in PSP vehicles provide an additional layer of security for officers, but upgrades to the current fleet of PSP vehicles are subject to budgetary constraints.

Bias-Based Policing Review Committee

Committee Recommendations: That the Pennsylvania State Police: (1) revise notification letters so citizens can refile complaints based on bias for full investigation after the completion of the underlying criminal proceedings; and (2) ​update certain policies (including personal use of social media or otherwise) regarding, among other things, the inclusion of any protected categories regarding prohibited discriminatory or offensive behavior, and enforce certain actions such as a requirement to report acts of bias-based policing bias, annual in-service training on bias-based policing, and limiting memberships and/or affiliations with certain organizations that negatively impact the PSPs.

PSP response: (1) PSP will update notification letters and include instructions on how the citizen can re-contact the Internal Affairs Division, at the end of the legal process, so that their complaint can be addressed. a thorough investigation. (2) PSP will update the Bias Profiling Review Policy to better define conduct prohibitions against protected classes. PSP will also work to improve internal policies related to membership and organizational affiliations, including social media.

Critical Incident Review Committee

Recommendation: That the Pennsylvania State Police require that all criminal investigations into all of its use of force incidents resulting in death or serious bodily injury, or deaths in custody, be referred to an outside agency.

PSP response: Without legislative action, the PSP cannot implement this recommendation at this time. PSP is committed to improvement and will continue to evaluate its investigative processes to ensure best practices are aligned with laws and accreditation standards, pending a legislative change allowing for an external investigation.

“These reports were only possible because of the active participation of the PSP,” said Sha S. Brown, Deputy State Inspector General and Chairman of the Commission. “The Commission greatly appreciates PSP’s response to the Commission’s reports and its plans to implement the report’s recommendations for improvement where possible.”

Governor Wolf created the Commission in 2020 by executive order. The Commission is composed of 21 voting members and six ex-officio members. Voting members include one representative from each of the 15 current Pennsylvania State Police troop geographic areas and six selected citizen members at-large.

The Commission’s recommendations and the PSP’s responses are available in full on the Office of the State Inspector General’s website.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Corporal Brent Miller or Lieutenant Adam Reed, 717-783-5556, [email protected]

MEDIA CONTACT: Jonathan P. Hendrickson – 717-265-8396

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