Community activists demand input in police chief selection

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POLICE CHIEF SEARCH—Hazel Blackman speaks at a Feb. 27 press conference. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

 

Questions still surround the resignation of former Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Chief Nate Harper, who stepped down after more than 35 years of service on the force amid pressure from a federal investigation. But the Pittsburgh activist community already has their sights set on the next chief and is being proactive to ensure their input is factored into the mayor’s decision.
“As you know we’re in a difficult moment in the history of our city with regard to the police bureau,” said Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project at a press conference on Feb. 27. “Maybe the next police chief just has to be bold, bold enough to stand up to officers who abuse their power. Even with that blue uniform and history, they must be as unbiased against their officers as possible.”
While the news media is focused on corruption within the police force with regard to funds that were possibly misappropriated, community representatives at the press conference outside of City Council Chambers were more concerned with issues such as police brutality and the lack of diversity on the police force.
“This is imperative to repairing the relationship between the community and the police. The diversity of the police force has been an issue for many years,” said Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability. “In order to change that we need to focus on a common ground of trust.”

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