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Harrisburg Police to adopt "8 Can't Wait" police reform initiative

Eight-point plan is designed to curb police department use-of-force policies across the country.

As protests over the death of George Floyd stretch into a second week in Harrisburg, Mayor Eric Papenfuse says there are a number of police reforms which simply cannot wait.

Papenfuse says the Harrisburg Police Bureau will adopt the "8 Can't Wait" policy plan, a movement pushed originally by President Barack Obama and more recently by national police reform non-profit Campaign Zero. Police departments across the country and being asked to change their use-of-force policies in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who suffocated when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. 

Chauvin is facing manslaughter and second degree murder charges.

"8 Can't Wait" asks police departments to consider these eight reforms:

  • Ban chokeholds
  • Require de-escalation
  • Verbal warnings before shootings
  • Exhaust all non-lethal alternatives before shooting
  • Duty to intervene if excessive force is used by other officers
  • Limiting severe force to only extreme situations
  • Ban shooting at moving vehicles
  • Comprehensive reporting

"All use of force policies need to have these eight essential principles," Papenfuse said. "I look forward to this as a great way to engage with the public to foster meaningful dialogue for change, and enact policy on the local level that the public wants, and is out there protesting for every day."

Papenfuse added that Harrisburg Police are on board. He said Harrisburg Police already practice seven of the eight policies; only the "Duty to intervene" policy is not spelled out in its current use-of-force policy plan, though it is being taught to cadets in training. Papenfuse said it would be added to the official plan soon.

The police's use-of-force policy only needs Commissioner Thomas Carter's approval; it does not need city council votes. However, the Mayor wants council, along with the public, to participate in the creation of the city's new use-of-force plan. 

Papenfuse says the public is invited to leave their thoughts at the email address 8cantwait@harrisburgpa.gov.