Law Enforcement Advisory Commission Issues Reports on Use of Force and Bias-based Policing

The Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizen Advisory Commission released its October 28, 2022 reports of recommendations to improve Commonwealth law enforcement. The reports, along with responses from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and the Department of Corrections Parole Field Services (DOC) , can be found on the Commission’s website.

“These reports reveal important recommendations related to use of force and bias-based policing issues within Pennsylvania law enforcement.” said Deputy State Inspector General and Commission Chairperson, Sha S. Brown. “While there is still much work to do, the coordination between the Commission and covered agencies continues to produce results and is creating positive change for all Pennsylvanians.”

In their responses, and consistent with both agencies’ commitment to ensure that their policies are aligned with best practices, the covered agencies provided plans regarding implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. The Commission’s recommendations to PSP and the DOC sought to strengthen use of force policies and eliminate bias-based policing:

Strengthening Use of Force Policies:

  1. TASER Policy Enhancements – DOC should enhance its use of force policy to include cautions regarding TASER deployments near flammable liquids and to detail where TASER deployments fall within its Resistance and Control Continuum.
  2. Post-Incident Internal Investigation Procedures – In accordance with best practices, DOC should enhance its policies to ensure post-incident interviews occur as soon as practical after the 72-hour waiting period and should complete post-incident investigations within 180 days.
  3. Less than Lethal Use of Force – PSP should enhance its use of force policy to permit the use of less than lethal proportional force (given the totality of circumstances) to carry out a legitimate law or civil enforcement activity.

Eliminating Bias-Based Policing:

  1. Bias-Based Policing Policies – PSP should update its Bias-Based Profiling Review Policy and all relevant employee code of conduct and enforcement-related policies to better define prohibitions of conduct against all protected classes and provide examples and descriptions of acts that may indicate bias-based policing.
  2. Mandated Annual Bias-Based Policing or Implicit Bias Training – PSP should mandate in-service annual bias-based policing or implicit bias training for all members.