STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) – After eight work sessions and two public hearings, a community oversight board for the State College Police Department has been approved.
While the vote for the ordinance ultimately ended up being unanimous, it wasn’t without some debate amongst council members.
Discussion surfaced around the specific trainings future COB members would be required to take. As it stands, trainings on subjects like the use of force in PA, the fourth amendment and critical race theory are all explicitly outlined. Council member Theresa Lafer initially proposed their removal.
“What sounds like a perfectly great theory in 2021 may not be one that we need to require in 2024, so I would leave those out and have them covered as any other training required by the board from time to time,” said Lafer.
Council President Jesse Barlow disagreed saying the ordinance should be left as is.
“I think that we are taking a lot of teeth out of this ordinance if we change this. They need to know all of these things to do their jobs, and I think laying out these specifics is necessary,” said Barlow.
Mayor Ron Filippelli had an issue with the critical race theory training.
“I suggested to council in an earlier email that what we say instead of saying critical race theory, is that we say everyone on this board must understand the history of slavery, racism discrimination and the impact on African Americans in American history,” said Filippelli.
He urged council to amend that section.
“We should not put in a theory of history and embed it in a law,” said Filippelli.
Despite his recommendation, the council voted against any amendments..
According to the borough the effective date for the establishment of the board is Oct. 1, although the mayor could veto council’s vote.
Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter for the latest local news, weather and community events that matter to you.