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Pittsburgh Council Set to Confirm New Citizens Police Review Board Member

After an amicable interview with Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday, it appears Karen McLellan of the North Side will become the newest member of the Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB). 

McLellan, a former Pittsburgh policewoman for 31 years, would join the police watchdog group immediately following a Council vote on Tuesday. Her term would expire on the last day of October this year. Several of the seats on the CPRB must go to individuals with certain expertise.  In this case the appointee must have experience in law enforcement.

The CPRB nominee said her experience with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police included a job that gave her a "unique perspective."

"When I retired from the police department, I was working on the crisis intervention team, which was bringing mental health training to officers so that they are better equipped to handle situations on the street," said McLellan.

She said she has several goals as a CPRB member.

"I think bridging the gap further between law enforcement and the public; bringing more awareness to the public of law enforcement rules and procedures; and bringing to the public the fact that they need to step up more is definitely forefront," said McLellan.

Not all in favor

All Council Members voiced their approval of McLellan during Wednesday's interview; however, not everyone in Pittsburgh is happy with the choice of a white woman to serve on the board. Tim Stevens, Director of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) has said that the board needs the perspective of a black male, because many interactions between police and citizens involve African-American men.

Among the names on the short list of candidates considered by the mayor was a black male with experience as a police officer.

An African-American man "may bring to the table a little different perspective than even black females and white males will, of course," said Stevens.  "That's our logic and we think that's an appropriate logic in this situation because of the high sensitivity between the police and black males in the city."

Roughly three-quarters of the city's police force is male, and about 70% of all officers are white.

"The presence of an African American male on the CPRB in a city that is over 25 percent African American is nearly a must," said Stevens.

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