Former law enforcement officer backs police reforms
HARRISBURG – In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd and the international protests calling for criminal justice improvements, former law enforcement officer and current state Rep. Barry Jozwiak (R-Berks) today in Harrisburg voted for two bills approved by the House in a bipartisan Protect and Serve Initiative aimed at reforming police practices and strengthening their partnerships with the communities they serve.
“The goal of police – to protect and serve their communities – remains a vital role in our society,” said Jozwiak, who served for 25 years with the Pennsylvania State Police and another 12 years as Berks County sheriff. “We need well-trained police officers to perform the dangerous job of protecting our residents and their neighborhoods. Recent tragedies have highlighted the desperate need for changes in policies and procedures.”
The first measure (House Bill 1841
) seeks to weed out problem police officers during the hiring process. The bill would enable law enforcement agencies to review an officer’s previous employment history, including any disciplinary actions, during the application process.
The bill would require the Municipal Police Officer’s Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) to establish and maintain a database with officers’ personnel records, including disciplinary actions related to excessive force, harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, coercion of a false confession and other unacceptable behavior.
“The database is intended to prevent police officers with a history of issues from moving from one community police department to the next,” said Jozwiak, who serves as a member of MPOETC.
The second measure (House Bill 1910
) would require MPOETC to provide officers with training related to the use of force, including deadly force, and de-escalation techniques to help diffuse potentially dangerous situations. The bill also calls for training for officers to help them interact with individuals of diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. Training also would be provided to increase officers’ community and cultural awareness, highlight implicit bias, and promote procedural justice and reconciliation techniques.
The bill also attempts to increase the awareness and diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in police officers by requiring officers to undergo an evaluation within 30 days after any incident where lethal force was used.
“We want our police officers to have the new and advanced training and tools they need to protect and serve our communities,” Jozwiak said. “The Protect and Serve Initiative is about strengthening the relationships between law enforcement officers and the people and communities they serve.”
Jozwiak noted the bills were supported by a number of law enforcement organizations.
More information about Jozwiak is available on his website at RepJozwiak.com
or by following him on Facebook at Facebook.com/RepJozwiak
Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Barry Jozwiak
5th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing