Legislation Would Make Police Training More Uniform Across Pennsylvania

Jul 3, 2018

In the wake of the officer-involved death of Antwon Rose last month, state Sen. Jay Costa (D-Forest Hills) said he plans to introduce legislation to improve police training on cultural awareness and use-of-force. 

Rose was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld on June 19. The 17-year-old was unarmed as he fled a car that had been pulled over by Rosfeld.

Costa said there are often discrepencies in the training received at different police bureaus in Pennsylvania.

"We need to have a stronger, uniform training protocol," Costa said. "[It] needs to be adopted by these municipalities."

Last week, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the East Pittsburgh police unit had virtually no policies or training in place for its officers. The local branch of the NAACP also held a town hall in Rankin last week to call for consistent policies across the 120 municipal police departments in the Pittsburgh area.

Costa's legislation would also develop a statewide database of disciplinary actions against police officers to be used by those in hiring positions. After Rose's death, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Rosfeld had left a position as a University of Pittsburgh officer after discrepencies were revealed in arrest reports and evidence. This week, two men arrested by Rose while he was a university police officer filed a civil suit against him. Some activists say this should have prevented Rosfeld from being hired as an East Pittsburgh officer.

The bill would also increase mental health resources available to both police and community members after a traumatic event, such as a police-involved death.

Costa said he thinks the legislation could see action at the start of the 2019 legislative session.

Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested Costa's legislation had already been filed.