Pittsburgh state Sen. Jay Costa to introduce police-training bills | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh state Sen. Jay Costa to introduce police-training bills

When people take to the streets for several consecutive days, politicians tend to respond. The shooting death of Antwon Rose Jr., killed by East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld on June 19, has generated several protests over the past couple of weeks.

Now, one of Pittsburgh’s state senators is responding.

State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Forest Hills) will introduced a package of legislation aimed at improving police training at municipal police departments across the state.

“In the wake of tragic officer-involved shootings across the commonwealth, and the nation, I am developing and will be introducing legislation to address these situations,” said Costa in a press release. “I believe it is important that the General Assembly develop and enact legislation that provides improved training for police to know when to use force, particularly deadly force.”

Costa’s legislation would create specialized crisis response units that would be used in police-involved shootings. A statewide database would also be developed to include police officers' disciplinary actions and misconduct as a way to increase transparency.

The bills would require the state’s Municipal Police Officers' Education & Training Commission to develop uniform policies that address use-of-force procedures. Municipalities that lack such policies must adopt them and then update those policies in officer-training manuals.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said on June 27 that East Pittsburgh had no policies related to police-involved shootings.

Costa emphasized that police training for municipal departments need improvements. He said officers should be put through enhanced field training on cultural awareness. Officers that might be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other similar issues must be directed to psychological counselling.