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Police training, hiring bills move to state Senate

MARK SCOLFORO and MARC LEVY
The Associated Press
In this June 11, 2020, photo, pedestrians pass a mural in Union Square highlighting police brutality nationwide in New York. More Americans now say police brutality is a serious problem that too often goes undisciplined and unequally targets black Americans. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows a dramatic shift in the nation’s public opinion on policing and race. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

HARRISBURG — Bills to give police departments information about an applicant’s disciplinary past and to train officers in how to interact with people of different racial and ethic backgrounds were approved unanimously on Wednesday by the state House.

The House voted after an emotional debate to require thorough background checks and to mandate that an applicant’s former department must provide information on the officer’s job history, including disciplinary actions.

It directs the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission to maintain an electronic database with details about why officers have left employment. Agencies would have to check the database before hiring an officer.

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Philadelphia Democratic state Rep. Chris Rabb called it “a seminal piece of legislation that will put the Keystone State not just on the map but on the very top in terms of what policing and responsibility looks like.”

The other House measure would require police to be trained in how to recognize and report child abuse, as well as how to treat people from various racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds.

There would also be annual training on the use of force, including conflict deescalation. Officers would be trained every two years on cultural awareness and implicit bias.

Both measures were sent to the state Senate.