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Anti-chokehold bill reintroduced in Pa. Senate

Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, looks on as Gov. Tom Wolf signs police reform bills last year. Street has reintroduced legislation banning chokeholds by police after the bill unanimously passed the Senate last year, but was not taken up in the House.

The state Senate’s Judiciary Committee has been referred legislation to ban the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers.

Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, has reintroduced legislation passed by the Senate unanimously last year that was not taken up by the state House of Representatives.

“This is a common-sense reform that will help our police do their jobs and protect our citizens from abuse. It has widespread, bi-partisan support, and acknowledges the public demand for change in response to the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd. In addition to banning chokeholds, this bill also requires all Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies to develop a public “use of force” policy and provide regular training on the policy for its law enforcement officers,” Street said.

Street said the reform bill is supported by the the state Attorney General’s office and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, which accredits 10% of law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania.

An anti-chokehold bill was one of several police reform bills signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York state in July 2020. The “Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act” mandates that a police officer who injures or kills a person by using a “chokehold or similar restraint” can be charged with a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Other states signing similar legislation last year include California, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, Oregon and Utah.

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