Act 59 of 2020, signed into law on July 14, 2020, directly impacts municipal police officers in two ways.
Mental Health Evaluations - This legislation provides for mental health evaluations of Municipal Officers in three circumstances: where an officer requests an evaluation, where a Chief of Police refers an officer, or when an officer uses lethal force. Officers who are evaluated and determined to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) must be provided care by a licensed physician and will be placed on administrative duty until a physician determines they are able to resume full duties. Officers who refuse to undergo the required evaluation when referred by their Chief or in situations where the officer has used lethal force will be placed on administrative duty until they are evaluated. The primary requirements of this section go into effect on July 14, 2021. The temporary regulations for this program were published on March 20, 2021. More information will be provided by the Commission as it becomes available.
Mandatory Training - The Act further establishes new training requirements for municipal police officers that will result in development of new annual, biennial, and basic training curriculum. All municipal police officers will now receive mandatory annual training in the use of force, de-escalation techniques, and harm reduction techniques. The implementation of this training is currently in development but is expected to merge with existing firearms qualifications in the future. Officers will also receive training ever other year in community and cultural awareness, implicit bias, procedural justice, and reconciliation techniques. This training will be incorporated into the mandatory in-service training courses developed by the Commission starting in 2022. Because both the annual and biennial training is mandatory, and officers must complete the training provided by the Commission, municipal departments should be aware that officers who attend elective (CLEE or other) courses on these topics will still be required to complete the mandatory Commission courses.
The last area of training addressed by the Act is basic training. The basic training curriculum will be revised to include training on topics such as interacting with individuals of diverse racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds, recognizing and reporting child abuse, and recognizing and interacting with individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. These revisions are expected to be completed in 2021 and will be included in all basic training conducted after January 1, 2022.
Please continue to monitor this page for more information about Act 59. See Act of Jul. 14, 2020, P.L. 624, No. 59. (2020).