Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto, Police Chief McLay and former Chief Nate Harper are to be commended for their efforts and determination in creating a positive atmosphere and a never-give-up attitude that led to the recent police recruits class being 31 percent Black.
Why do I include Harper? Because even though the fight for more Blacks and women on the police force, fire department, and in the city as a whole dates back to the 1960s and probably before that, Harper re-opened the struggle to get more Black police recruits.
I remember when I first moved to the news department with the Courier in the mid-1970s, and one of the first stories I did was an interview with most of the commanders of the then-No. 9 police station. It concerned their views of the work performance by the Black police officers hired under the Affirmative Action law, pushed by then-NAACP President and police sergeant Harvey Adams.
The law was, for every White male hired, there had to be one Black male, Black female and White female. After hiring some of their best officers, there was a backlash by conservatives stating that unqualified Blacks were being hired and that it was reverse discrimination. The law was repealed and new rules and guidelines were set forth that made it even harder for Blacks to get on the force. Those that were on the force remained but the percentage continued to dwindle as the years passed with few, if any, Blacks making the force.
None of the anti-Affirmative Action people complained during those previous years when family members, neighbors, and friends of White police officers were hired.