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State Police Issues Response to Recommendations from Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizen Advisory Commission

02/15/2022

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

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

The Commission includes three committees to review completed internal investigative findings to determine if they were fair, impartial, complete, and performed in a manner consistent with applicable policies.

Below is a summary of the recommendations from each committee and response from PSP:

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 use of an objective reasonableness standard, bolstering de-escalation and supplemental 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 its efforts to procure Mobile Video Recorder (MVR) systems that include various options for Interview Room Recorders and Body Worn Cameras; (3) consider enhancements to its policies relating to transportation of juvenile status offenders and others for civil enforcement purposes; and (4) consider the purchase of additional permanently installed security 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 procuring Body-Worn Cameras, as this has been a priority for the current command staff for several years. (3) PSP recognizes that regulation related to the transportation and handcuffing of juveniles can be improved for clarity and will update regulations accordingly. (4) PSP agrees that protective barriers in PSP vehicles provide an added layer of officer safety, however upgrades to the current PSP fleet of vehicles is subject to budgetary constraints.

Bias-Based Policing Review Committee

Committee Recommendations: That the Pennsylvania State Police: (1) revise notification letters such that citizens can refile bias-based complaints for full investigation following completion of underlying criminal proceedings; and (2) ​will update certain policies (including personal use of social or other media) regarding, among other things, inclusion of all protected classes concerning prohibited discriminatory or offensive conduct, and mandate certain actions such as a duty to report acts of bias-based policing, in-service annual bias-based policing training and limit memberships and/or affiliations to certain organizations that negatively impact PSP.

PSP Response: (1) PSP will update notification letters and include instructions on how the citizen may reinitiate contact with the Internal Affairs Division, upon the conclusion of court proceedings, so that their complaint can be fully investigated. (2) PSP will update Bias Based Profiling Review Regulation to better define prohibitions of conduct against protected classes. PSP will also work to improve internal regulations related to organizational membership and affiliations, including social media.

Critical Incident Review Committee

Recommendation: That the Pennsylvania State Police require all criminal investigations of all its use of force incidents resulting in death or serious bodily injury, or in-custody deaths, be referred to an external 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 consistent with laws and accreditation standards, pending a legislative change to allow external investigation.

“These reports were only possible through the active participation of PSP,” said Deputy State Inspector General and Commission Chairperson, Sha S. Brown. “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 comprised of 21 voting members and six ex-officio members. Voting members include one representative from each of the Pennsylvania State Police’s current 15 Troop geographic areas and six citizen members chosen at-large.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Corporal Brent Miller or Lieutenant Adam Reed, 717-783-5556, ra-pspcomm@pa.gov

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

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