PIIN President John Welch was the forum facilitator. (Courier File Photo)

Rather than holding a meeting asking community residents for input on who the next Pittsburgh police chief should be, the Borland Garden Community Relations Committee asked Black Political Empowerment Project, The ACLU and the Pittsburgh Citizens Police Review Board to join residents  at a May 28 forum to formulate a questionnaire about policing, priorities and resources they wanted answered by the next chief and the Peduto administration.

Among these:

•What would it take to develop training to combat implicit racism?

•What can the police to do to make the community feel safer to come forward with information? How can we “defeat the snitching rule” in light of the number of people who have died who were supposed to be kept safe within the witness protection program?

•Why can’t we have a more diverse police force? and,

•How do we build trust between neighbors, between the community and police?

The forum, was held at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in anticipation of a large crowd. It was led by PIIN President John Welch and included a panel discussion featuring Black Political Empowerment Project Founder Tim Stevens, CPRB Executive Director Beth Pittinger and board member Sheldon Williams, and Citizens for Police Accountability founder Brandi Fisher. About 55 people attended.

Stevens said this shouldn’t be a one-way thing. The police and the community should support each other.

“It was set up as a conversation, presenters posing questions. People gave thoughts.  How to make sure legislation passed relevant to police community relations is actually enforced,” said Stevens. “We’d like answers, and a commitment on impacting, in a permanent fashion, these issues. We will share these with the next chief and the new Public Safety Director Steven Bucar so reforms can be put into effect.”

Stevens said he is pleased that the Peduto administration is showing sensitivity to these issues and it may be a new day.

Pittinger, said she thought the meeting was constructive.

“I want these questions shared with the next chief and the new public safety director Steven Bucar.”

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