Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming County, has introduced a bill aimed at making police aware of, and “sensitive to,” a form of profiling he says is pervasive in the state.
He is referring to “motorcycle profiling,” or the act of law enforcement officers targeting motorcyclists because of their preference of transportation.
“The issue and existence of motorcycle profiling is irrefutable and making our law enforcement professionals aware of and sensitive to the issue will address the problem,” Everett wrote in a co-sponsorship letter, citing statements from motorcyclists.
House Bill 917 defines motorcycle profiling as “use of the fact that an individual rides a motorcycle or wears clothes or possesses paraphernalia that a reasonable person associates with such individuals as a factor in a decision to stop and question, take enforcement action against, arrest or search the individual or motorcycle in violation of federal or state law.”
Everett states the bill would not cost any money and would potentially “save millions in potential civil liability.”
However, the bill requires increased awareness and “sensitivity training” for law enforcement officers as it relates to motorcycle profiling, and creates a new explicit right for people who feel they have been subject to motorcycle profiling to bring civil action against police departments and individual officers.
Everett’s bill allows courts to impose an injunction, award financial compensation for actual damages and impose punitive financial damages against law enforcement agencies and officers.
“Motorcycle profiling, like any other form of profiling, is a problem in Pennsylvania that can and should be remedied by education and awareness,” Everett wrote in the co-sponsorship letter. “Targeting a class of individuals because of characteristics defined by protected expression violates all reasonable constitutional conceptions of free speech, association, equal protection and privacy.”