I think the resignation of Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is more than it was made out to be.
He said he has achieved three of the four initiatives he set out to accomplish, so he’s stepping down.
What’s the big hurry? The fourth is the most important.
The fourth was racial diversity within the police department. In 2016, we still are saying we can’t find qualified Blacks for these high paying, high benefit jobs.
Nobody has said this, but I believe Chief McLay resigned because of the pressure being put on him by the FOP, not only in Pittsburgh, but across the country, as well as the powerful Right Wing of the Republican Party throughout this country.
If he’s the chief of police and feels strongly about issues affecting the police, why shouldn’t he appear at the Democratic convention wearing his uniform, representing the Pittsburgh Police Department?
I think it’s time for the FOP, and police throughout this country, to realize that taxpayers pay their salaries, which should give them the power to demand that police live in the city and that the police department should reflect the community.
The FOP apparently gave Chief McLay a vote of no confidence; this is like the employees at our major corporations or non-profits giving their CEO or president a no confidence vote. Most would be fired.
We have run stories on most of Chief McLay’s meetings with the various communities throughout Pittsburgh, White and Black. They have been very positive and very supportive of what he and mayor Bill Peduto are trying to accomplish.
They are trying to create an atmosphere where the community respects the police and the police respect the communities they work in.
As a matter of fact, 80 percent of Pittsburgh residents, as recent as 2013, voted on a referendum that police officers should live within the city. I was one of those people. I feel that if you don’t feel Pittsburgh is good enough, or safe enough to live in, then it’s not good enough to work in, either. That should be true for other cities, too.
If you live in a community or city, you are going to be more concerned about law enforcement, business, education or the overall condition of that city, over someone who gets up every morning, travels to somewhere in which he/she knows little to nothing about, and has little invested interest in, because it’s just a paycheck.
The police departments throughout this country should be servants of the people. And they should have to answer to the people, through the mayor and city council, not the FOP.
Recently, with the constant killings of unarmed Black men by police officers being video taped and the outrage it is causing throughout this country by the Black community and the support they are receiving from many Whites, instead of admitting that this is a problem that needs to be investigated and something done about it, many White officers, led by the FOP, have turned their head and provided a deaf ear to this concern. Instead, they have created an “us” against “them” conflict––either you are for us or against us. Many Blacks, as a whole, are saying there are some racist cops out there, some poorly trained cops and some cops who feel that they can do anything they want behind the badge. Most Blacks aren’t against all cops, we are simply saying the untrained and bad ones need to be weeded out.
We understand that our communities need the police, probably more so than the White communities, but we shouldn’t have to fear the police and the criminals.
Just as the police serving our communities want us to understand them, they must understand that just because a person is Black doesn’t mean he or she is a criminal, or is supportive of the criminals.
We have had two excellent police chiefs who have been totally frustrated over the fact that they have not been able to diversify the Pittsburgh police, despite recruiting nationally.
My suggestion is that now is the time to get CCAC, Robert Morris, Pitt, Duquesne, Point Park, Slippery Rock, LaRoche, IUP, Carlow, Chatham and, yes, even Carnegie Mellon involved in the work of making sure our youngsters are qualified and fit the requirements it takes to be a police officer. And don’t stop there. In their career preparations, every high school in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area should be required to expose its Black students to what it means to be a police officer and what it takes.
This should be the case in every metropolitan area of this country, because we need jobs that matter. And law enforcement does matter.
It’s time for us to make Richard Pryor into a liar, when he says, when looking at the criminal justice system all we see is “Just Us” on the inside of the bars and wearing the handcuffs.
We are not talking Rocket Science.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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