PA lawmakers advance police hiring and training proposals

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two bills to change how police are hired and trained were approved unanimously on Monday by a Pennsylvania House committee.

Action on the proposals was taken a week after black state representatives commandeered the speaker’s dais and disrupted House business to pressure majority Republicans to take action on stalled bills involving how police interact with people.

The Judiciary Committee voted for a measure that would mandate thorough background checks for law enforcement officers and require applicants’ former employers to provide information on their job history, including disciplinary actions.

The Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission would operate an electronic database that shows why officers have left employment, including substantiated cases of misconduct. Police agencies would be required to check the database before hiring an officer.

The committee also approved a measure that would mandate training of officers for how to recognize and report child abuse, and how to interact with people of various racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds.

It also would require annual training on the use of force, including how to deescalate conflicts. Every two years, officers would have to undergo training on cultural awareness and implicit bias.

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