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Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY
Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY

PA House Democratic Policy Committee and Legislative Black Caucus begin conversation on state Police Reform

In Harrisburg on July 20, the PA Black Caucus held the first of many hearings to build on the recent police reform legislation.

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One positive by-product of the uprisings following George Floyd’s murder by police in Minneapolis in May is a push for action from local police and political leaders across the country to enact more police reform.

But it’s one thing to say or promise reforms will be put in place and another to actually follow through — especially considering the legislative process never meets the speed of protester demands.

In Philadelphia, City Council has slashed the police department budget by $14 million and re-implemented a policy requiring all Philadelphia workers to have lived in the city for one year prior to working for it.

There will also be three initiatives on the ballot in November that will call on the police to end “stop and frisk,” create a civilian oversight commission on police conduct, and create a victim advocate office.

At the state level, discussions have only just begun on possibly implementing Pennsylvania-wide reforms. The PA Black Caucus started the process on July 20, by hosting Philadelphia leaders like Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner and Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson for a conversation about the progress made so far and what the future holds. 

Outlaw opened the floor to the hearings stating that the city will build on its reform by instituting “no knock” requirements after the brutal murder of Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old African-American EMT that was shot and killed by a police officer in the middle of the night for what Louisville police justified with a search warrant.

Quickly circulating the media around the George Floyd protests, government officials in most cities have implemented restrictions on the “no knock” rules, but the cops involved in Taylor’s murder have yet to face criminal charges.

Commissioner Outlaw mentioned more of the legislations that have already been passed and reviewed at other hearings like the diversity and inclusivity manager, and public hearings in the police department during the contract negotiation process. 

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner added that the most important part of the process resulting from the uprisings is that there is more accountability and transparency from the police department on the other end.

“Shouldn't the people whose job it is to hold everyone accountable be accountable?” he said.

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