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Pittsburgh police chief partners with local groups to host ‘community conversations’ on policing

By Kalea Gunderson

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    PITTSBURGH (WTAE) — The future of policing in Pittsburgh will soon be the topic of five conversations open to the public, offering people a chance to address the city’s police chief directly.

These meetings will provide a space for the police chief to hear from Pittsburghers and answer their questions.

“We’ve been anticipating a conversation with the police chief for a while now,” Chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Black Caucus, Willaim Anderson, said.

Police Chief Larry Scirotto stood alongside several organization leaders tonight to announce a series of five community conversations.

B-PEP Chairman & CEO Tim Stevens was joined by Alliance for Police Accountability Associate Director of Programming Quiana Buckner, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh President & CEO Carlos Carter, NAACP President Daylon Austin Davis and CPRB Director Beth Pittinger in making the announcement Monday.

“Our hope is that these dates will allow the citizens of Pittsburgh an opportunity to exchange thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns with Chief Scirotto, and for him to share his vision of what he expects to see happen under his leadership,” President of BPEP, Tim Stevens, said.

The conversation will kick off this Thursday at Bethel AME Church in the city’s Hill District neighborhood.

“I’m going to all of them. You’ll all see me at all of them,” Pittsburgh resident, Carmen Brown said. “We are always hopeful, but I just haven’t seen anything, and I’ve been involved and active for years, and I haven’t seen any changes.”

Brown said she questions how these meetings will bring about change.

“We have had meetings after meetings, and we need action. We don’t need to keep having meetings,” Brown said.

“We don’t need algorithms saying that this is a high crime area, therefore, we are going to send more police officers to that area,” Chair of Allegheny County Democratic Black Caucus Willaim Anderson said. “What helps the community is community policing.”

Chief Scirotto said it will start with creating a strategy unique to each neighborhood.

“We need a strategy, a clear plan of action that addresses a lot of various needs, and again, I speak about, they are different in different communities. The downtown community has much different needs than the East End does,” Scirotto said.

He said the goal is to decide what actions to take in how the department polices communities.

“That’s what’s different, is that we take those recommendations, and we operationalize them and put them to action, and now the community sees a police department that works for them,” Scirotto said.

As for updates on investigations, Scirotto said that will have to come from Pittsburgh Public Safety’s public information officers.

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