The Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives celebrated mentoring and education at the 10th annual William H. Moore Awards and Scholarship Banquet Oct. 23 at the Doubletree Hotel in Monroeville.
The annual dinner is named after one of the national NOBLE’s founding members and Pittsburgh’s first Black Police Chief William H. “Mugsy” Moore, who was always committed to his job and community.
|OFFICER OF THE YEAR—Maurirta Bryant presents the “Officer of the Year” award to Warden Ramon Rustin at the dinner.
“By having the banquet we are keeping his (Chief Moore’s) name and legacy alive in the city of Pittsburgh,” Maurita Bryant, Pittsburgh Chapter of NOBLE president, 2nd vice president of the national NOBLE and assistant police chief for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. “And I know his family is very touched about what we do.”
The Pittsburgh Chapter of NOBLE was first assembled in August of 1999 and includes members from various law enforcement departments and agencies from all over Allegheny County.
The theme for this year’s annual dinner was “Recognizing Those Who Give Themselves to Mentor Others” and the Mistress of Ceremonies was Diane S. Richard, public information officer for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
The dinner included two selections by Stephanie Wellons of the Afro-American Music Institute; a greeting from Spencer Giles, the vice president of NOBLE Region II; and a presentation by Verizon Wireless to the Women’s Center and Shelter. The presentation was a part of the chapter’s participation in the Verizon Wireless HopeLine Program, which collects old cell phones for clients of domestic violence programs. The cell phones are either recycled or refurbished and given to clients with 3000 minutes of airtime.
The main feature of the dinner was the presentation of the William H. Moore Award of Excellence, which is given to those who show a commitment to the community and their profession, like that of Moore. Recipients of the award were; retired Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Assistant Chief, Craig B. Edwards; KDKA News Reporter, Lynn Hayes-Freeland; George Westinghouse High School Girls’ Basketball Coach Phyllis Jones; retired McKeesport School District teacher and Bethlehem Baptist Church Deacon, Gerald Grayson; and James T. and Pamela Johnson, founders of the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood.
Bryant said that the criteria for the award were individuals who unselfishly give of themselves and who have a long history of giving back throughout their career. She also said that each of the chosen individuals displayed the qualities and is well known for constantly giving back to others whether through education or the community.
Along with the award of excellence, was the presentation of the Officer of the Year Award, which was given to Ramon C. Rustin, director of the Allegheny County Bureau of Corrections and Warden of the Allegheny County Jail.
“He has done an amazing job at the jail. He has put into action things that were just ideas. What is a good idea without putting it into action?” Bryant said. “It takes a special person to work with the jail collaborative and the prisoner re-entry initiative which gives inmates something to ensure that they have a better chance of not returning and breaking the cycle (that many go through).”
Rustin has been the warden and director since 2004 and is a 30-year veteran of the corrections field. He is also the Second Vice President of the Pennsylvania Prison Warden’s Association and serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation.
During his acceptance speech, Rustin said that he was truly honored to receive the award and thanked NOBLE, his staff and his family. “The words written on the plaque, I will look at everyday and work to live up to them,” he said.
NOBLE also recognizes the importance of education. Three criminal justice majors; Duane Williams, Shirley Epperson and Medina El; were awarded a $500 scholarship to help with their education.
Bryant said one of her concerns for the future of NOBLE and the police department is the decline in Black police recruits. “I plan to retire after the conference (in 2013) and there is only a small number of Blacks in (supervisor positions). The problem is trying to convince many of the officers on the job that they need to advance (and take the promotional tests). If no one advances then there are going to be no supervisors of color. You have to look at the big picture,” she said. “A lot of people do not want to take responsibility for others, just for themselves. We have a diverse city and the department should reflect that.”
But Bryant said she and others are making an effort to increase the number of Black recruits by talking to young people and informing them that, “this is a good profession.”
No matter what the numbers, Bryant said, “NOBLE is about community and furthering oneself in the profession, but sometimes people get stagnant. It’s not always about getting the biggest car, it’s about reaching back and helping others.”
Now that the dinner is over, Bryant said the chapter is focusing on the planning of the 2013 annual National NOBLE conference, which will be in Pittsburgh. They are responsible for raising a significant amount of money.
“We really want to show Pittsburgh off to NOBLE and NOBLE off to Pittsburgh,” Bryant said. “When I travel around the country and talk to people about Pittsburgh, they still have in their minds that Pittsburgh is an old smoky town. And I want to show them that it’s not true. Our people (Pittsburgh residents) are gracious and welcoming.”
The conference will include the regular business portion, which includes workshops, networking and training; a youth conference, a Pittsburgh night where attendees will gather at the Carnegie Science Center for a night of fun; but most importantly, the conference will hold a Memorial March, where they will march through a low-income community in their uniforms, to a church and hold a memorial service with the families of lost ones.