PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Police Chief is warning city youth football coaches to get their act together or he will shut down the league.
In a letter sent to coaches Monday, Chief Harper outlined problems at a youth football game in Homewood September 17.
Chief Harper says coaches were on the field without proper credentials and he says coaches were confrontational when asked to display credentials.
The chief also says coaches had to be escorted from the field and he says coaches tried to incite the crowd to become confrontational with police.
“I will not compromise my stance of having a safe, crime-free youth football program for the children of the City of Pittsburgh,” Harper said.
Police indicate there have been at least two shootings at Stargell Field in Homewood in the last few years. Just last summer, police reports indicate 20 shots were fired, hitting three people.
Following that incident Chief Harper put a series of changes in place to make the fields a safer place for children ages 5-9 to play football.
“Morningside didn’t have to deal with that. South Side didn’t have to deal with that – we have to deal with that,” says youth coach Mubarak Ismali. “It’s not fair. It’s not right.”
Ismali says the police department is selecting only black coaches, a policy he calls racist.
“Not just black coaches, but the black teams. All of our teams are 100 percent black,” says Ismali.
Chief Harper says the crackdown right now is on the teams and coaches and communities where there have been problems.
Harper says his officers will continue to monitor problems with certain teams regardless of the race of the players, coaches or the fans.