'A down payment on reform' New police database will boost public safety

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at a press conference near Hershey Friday to announce the launch of a new police misconduct database.

Pennsylvania’s governor and attorney general joined legislators and representatives of state and local police across the commonwealth on Friday to celebrate the launch of a new tool to assist in the hiring of law enforcement officers and to underscore the importance of law enforcement personnel who are fully dedicated to professionalism as they carry out their sworn duty to serve and protect all citizens.

The new tool is an electronic database that law enforcement agencies will use in the process of screening applicants for law enforcement positions. It was developed by the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) and will point to information on law enforcement officers who have a history of criminal charges or discipline for actions ranging from excessive force to discrimination.

“It will help agencies identify potential red flags in candidates, which helps agencies invest in better employees they’ll want to train and retain and keep officers with a history of misconduct away from roles where they can cause further harm,” said Gov. Tom Wolf.

“Law enforcement reform is crucial to improving public safety,” the governor said. “This, along with the reforms my administration has implemented over the past year will make our commonwealth safer for everyone.”

The database was created by Act 57 of 2020, which was unanimously approved in the General Assembly and signed into law by Wolf on July 14, 2020. It required MPOETC to develop a database to hold employment separation records of all law enforcement officers.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the database is now up and running and every law enforcement department must participate. “This is a down payment on reform, one of many steps we need to take to fulfill the promise of safety and the promise of justice, so that every Pennsylvanian can be, and can feel safe in their own community.”

York Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow, who noted that he is the son of a police officer, called on his colleagues in municipal law enforcement across the state to continue working toward higher levels of professionalism.

“We’re not perfect,” he said. “We recognize we have a few ‘bad apples’ in our bunch, and contrary to what is often times portrayed or believed about police, I think I speak for all of us when I say, we want our bad apples out too.”

Commissioner Muldrow spoke for four and a half minutes in the middle of the 46-minute event. We found his comments about the importance of police professionalism and dedication in this age of division to be compelling, inspiring and refreshing.

“Change is OK, change is a good thing, and change is necessary,” he said, especially change “that will once again motivate that little boy and girl to tell their teacher, ‘I want to grow up to be a police officer.’”

— The (Sunbury) Daily Item

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