The men and women of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police are, by and large, good hardworking people who truly care about this city and its safety. However, the financial scandals and incidents of police brutality have shocked our communities, damaged the bureau, and severed ties of trust with many Pittsburghers, particularly African Americans. It is critical that we develop a comprehensive strategy for restoring this trust and proving to our citizens that our police will serve and protect them regardless of where they live or the color of their skin. I will make this a top priority of my administration and begin working on it on day one. Yet, I can’t do it alone. We must address this issue as a community, keeping in mind these problems won’t be solved overnight. I know together we can make the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police the best in the country. We owe it to our communities and the hardworking men and women who we serve.
1. Restoring Trust and Reaffirming Professionalism
The first step toward a new era of trust and cooperation with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is to select a new police chief who embodies the twin values of professionalism and community support. I will not take this selection process lightly and refuse to limit my search to only a handful of individuals in the Police Bureau. As mayor I will ensure the community has a strong voice and critical part in this process. You will be at the table from day one playing a role in helping myself and other professionals define the criteria for the selection process and ensuring we consider the best talent available. Minneapolis, Minnesota used this same approach in their search for a new chief and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Chief Janee Harteau was appointed last year amidst standing ovations from a community with a historically poor relationship with the Minneapolis Police due to issues of racial profiling and brutality. Chief Harteau has succeeded in earning the trust and understanding of the community from her time in the trenches working directly with those she serves. This is the kind of person who should lead Pittsburgh’s Bureau.
While the selection of a new chief is critically important, it is only the first step towards a stronger Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. I will work closely with the new chief and with City Council to get to the bottom of the recent financial scandals. I will also put in place a strong system of checks and balances to prevent this sort of misconduct from occurring in the future. We need to ensure that every police zone in our city has the resources, the staff, and the equipment they need to do their jobs. This means putting more power in the hands of the commanders who run those zones and then working with them to tailor their policing strategies to the needs of the neighborhoods they represent. I will select a new police chief who shares these values and understands the importance of a distributed power structure and a strong chain of command.
Finally, we must address the racial and gender disparities in our police force. It is unacceptable that our force is predominantly male and white while our city is racially diverse. I will select a chief who has a proven track record of diversifying a large organization and will work hand-in-hand with the new chief to develop policies and strategies to open the doors to everyone who is interested.
Restoring trust in our police bureau will not be easy, nor will it happen overnight. Yet, it remains one of the most important issues facing our city and I am determined to address it accordingly. I look forward to working with all Pittsburghers and the men and women of the Pittsburgh Police to create a police bureau that serves and protects our city like never before.