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Pennsylvania's first police-reform bills after protests go to governor

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf will sign the first bills passed by Pennsylvania’s Legislature in response to widespread protests over police brutality and the killing of George Floyd, his office said Tuesday.

The Senate passed the bills unanimously after the House passed both unanimously last week.

One of the bills is designed to prevent bad officers from continuing to find employment in police departments.

Under the bill, a department must conduct background checks of job applicants that require an applicant’s former department to disclose information on the officer’s employment history. That history must disciplinary actions, complaints and reasons for separation.

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Jace Tomko of New Freedom, 17, rallies along Main Street in New Freedom Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in the wake of the George Floyd killing. About 15 people joined the protest which Virginia Shelley, 20, of New Freedom, organized. Shelley said the afternoon rallies have been taking place for the past week. A memorial service for Floyd was being held in Houston Tuesday. Bill Kalina photo

The Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission must maintain an electronic database containing that information, although the bill does not allow public access to the database.

The other bill requires officers to be trained every other year in how to interact with people of different racial and ethic backgrounds and to receive annual instruction on de-escalation and harm-reduction techniques.

It also requires officers to undergo a mental health evaluation for post-traumatic stress disorder within 30 days of an incident in which the officer used lethal force or at the request of a supervisor.

An officer who shows symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder during an evaluation must wait for a licensed physician to clear them to resume full duties.