PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — While many people are voting early, Pittsburgh voters may be surprised to discover a referendum on the ballot.
It would give the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board more authority over investigations involving law enforcement. Among other things, it forces an officer under investigation to cooperate with the board’s investigation or face firing.
In Pittsburgh, the Citizen Police Review Board is given little authority. But following the Black Lives Matter Movement, Councilman Ricky Burgess pushed to give the board more power.
“We think this is an important first step to creating greater oversight of the police,” Burgess said. “And giving greater confidence to the community so we can work in partnership with our police force.”
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Like most referendums, it’s filled with confusing language, but here’s the meat of it.
If voters approve the measure, it would allow the board to “require police officers to participate in investigations, conducting performance audits of the Police Bureau and preventing the removal of Board members except for just cause and with City Council approval.”
The executive director of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board is in favor of it.
“You don’t have an option. If the board is investigating, if someone has filed a complaint against you, you have an obligation as a police officer to stand up and confront it and deal with it,” said Beth Pittinger.
“From the citizens, I’m getting very positive reaction. If you notice, there’s not been major pushback from the union. This is a common-sense matter,” Burgess said.
The referendum also mandates that police brass can’t give final discipline to an officer until the board issues its findings. KDKA has reached out to the police union for its reaction but has not heard back.