By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The city’s Community Taskforce for Police Reform released its final report Monday, with Mayor Bill Peduto saying the recommendations within it will be a “guiding influence” to policing changes.
The task force — made up of corporate, religious, philanthropic, union, health care and community-based groups, along with activists and law enforcement — released their findings at a morning news conference.
The report includes independently produced recommendations under several focus areas:
- Eliminating Racial Disparities
- Officer Wellness
- Reimagining Policing
- Education and Hiring
- Relations with Pittsburgh’s Fraternal Order of Police
- Transparency and Accountability
- Use of Force Changes Needed to Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Policy
- Use of Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets, “Flash-Bang” Devices and Other Less Lethal Methods of Crowd Control
The task force formed in June is calling for sweeping reforms of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to better protect and serve minority communities. Working over these summer months of protest, the mayor’s task force called upon the city to seize the moment, using the Black Lives Matter movement as a catalyst for change.
“In this moment, we have a tremendous opportunity to radically change how police protect and serve the public. As we know, the current model can be harmful to our Black and brown residents,” said Quintin Bullock, a co-chairperson on the task force.
While Black people account for less than a quarter of the city’s population, the report notes that they are the subjects of 44 percent of all traffic stops and 62 percent of all stops which resulted in searches and frisking.
While the task force said those statistics don’t necessarily indicate racial bias, they are cause for concern and reform.
“Differential does not necessarily mean bias, doesn’t necessarily mean discrimination. However, we need to have more information to ensure this is being done in a just manner,” said task force member Angela Reynolds.
The reforms include more data analysis to determine bias and the beefing up of initiatives already underway.
“This is not anti-police. This is anti-police brutality,” the mayor said.
The task force also zeroed in on the police’s handling of the recent protest calling on the police bureau to significantly curtail the use of tear gas, pepper spray and bean bag projectiles to disperse crowds. Peduto also addressed the young protesters who have called for overall reform.
“The voices we’ve heard on the street, you are being listen to. Your words are being incorporated into this,” he said.
There have been calls to defund the police but the recommendation does not go that far. The task force is in favor of shifting some police duties to a team of social workers to better attend to the homeless, the addicted, and the mentally ill.
Visit the city’s website at this link to read the full report.
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