After months of tweeking, meetings, objections and finally consensus, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed legislation that will allow for more monitoring of police actions, which supporters said would foster greater cooperation and trust between the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and particularly, the Black community.
It passed council unanimously Oct. 11.
Black Political Empowerment Project Chair Tim Stevens noted that the following day would be the 16th anniversary of Jonny Gammage’s death at the hands of police. He called the passage of the legislation, “a new day for the citizens of Pittsburgh.”
“I thank everyone for this remarkable cooperative effort,” said Stevens. “Everyone was at the table; the police administration, the union, council, the ACLU, the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, and community representatives like B-PEP and the Alliance for Police Accountability—and everyone has signed off on this.”
The legislation was first introduced as part of a package crafted by District 9 Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess following the 2010 arrest of CAPA student Jordan Miles. It calls for the police department to reinstate reporting requirements that were in place during the period from 1997 to 2002 when the department was under a federal consent decree due to charges of police brutality.
As such the bureau will henceforth publish an annual report on its activities and personnel. The initial summary report will be delivered in 2012 and will cover the calendar year for 2011.
Among the data to be reported are the number, race and gender of all officers; placed on administrative leave with pay, pending a criminal or internal misconduct charge; of officers disciplined, distinguished by type charge, source of charge and level of discipline; number of officers sued, with a statistical breakdown showing the types of claims, in which court or administrative body they were filed and the result in terms of payment and/or equitable relief; the number of officers arrested, those criminally charged and the disposition of the charges.
The report will also document the number of pedestrian stops that result in a search, the reason for and result of the search, and the race gender and age of the person stopped. Police pursuits are to be similarly documented.
Patricia Porter, Jordan Miles’ grandmother, thanked council and Rev. Burgess for getting this done.
“This is an important bill to advance the security and safety of our citizens,” she said.
In addition to thanking B-PEP, Rev. Burgess and council, Citizen Police Review Board Executive Director Elizabeth Pittinger noted the contribution of police Chief Nate Harper and his staff for their “genuine effort to reach a compromise on this bill.”
Burgess himself made no remarks ahead of the vote. Council President Darlene Harris thanked him for introducing the legislation and said after waiting 574 days to get it passed, she wasn’t surprised.
District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus summed up by again thanking everyone involved.
“Today is a great day because it shows that when government works together, government works.”
(Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)