Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

From the archives 2022

WATCH: A free Q&A on the limitations of Pa.’s police misconduct database

by Spotlight PA Staff |

A Spotlight PA review found a police misconduct database is riddled with loopholes and lacks meaningful enforcement mechanisms.
YONG KIM / Philadelphia Inquirer

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

In 2020, after the police murder of George Floyd and a nationwide wave of protests, lawmakers in the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus blocked a state House session from starting and demanded that Republicans who controlled the chamber take meaningful action to hold police officers accountable.

A series of conversations with policy makers, law enforcement officers, and community members followed, and eventually legislators passed a bill creating a database to track misconduct by police officers. The bill, signed into law that summer, and later lauded as a national model, was touted by state officials as a tool for accountability.

Two years later, a Spotlight PA review found that the database is riddled with loopholes and lacks meaningful enforcement mechanisms. Although every state police agency is required to use the database, the law does not include any penalties if they do not comply. Agencies are required to upload records if an officer leaves their employment, but not if they receive a warning or are suspended but still able to keep their jobs.

On July 7, Spotlight PA held a Q&A on the limitations of the state’s police hiring database. Watch it below.

Our panelists were:

  • Danielle Ohl, criminal justice reporter for Spotlight PA

  • Chris Rabb, state representative serving Philadelphia County

  • Raff Donelson, associate professor of law at Penn State Dickinson Law

  • David Steffen, president of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association

» Spotlight PA’s events operate on a “pay-what-you-can” honor system. If you value this public-service event, pay it forward and contribute any amount to Spotlight PA now so we can keep our programming free for everyone: spotlightpa.org/donate.

Get the top news from across Pennsylvania, plus some fun and a puzzle, all in one free daily email newsletter.