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Task Force On Police Reform To Offer ‘People Oriented Solutions’

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
Valerie McDonald-Roberts will act as co-chair of the recently announced Community Task Force on Police Reform.


On today's program: Mayor Bill Peduto assembles a Community Task Force on Police Reform;  Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center deals with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the state; and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership expands outdoor dining and walking spaces downtown. 

People are "screaming to the heavens" for police reform
(00:00 — 6:40)

In cities across the country, including Pittsburgh, activists arecalling for big changes in law enforcement—everything from abolishing the police to shifting some funds to community based programs.

Last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto created a 17-member Community Task Force on Police Reform toreview current police practices and police-community relations.

Long-time public servant Valerie McDonald-Roberts has been named as the task force’s co-chair. She says that the group plans to implement “people-oriented solutions.” 

“Police reform is definitely not new to me, but what is different now is that we have numerous voices at the table. We have them on the streets, we have them basically screaming to the heavens that we want reform."

Roberts, a former city councilor and former chief of Pittsburgh's Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment, says the task force hopes to offer recommendations to the mayor by the fall. 

“This is not lip service, this is not a nice book to have in your background as you’re doing your zoom call. This is not like that. This is going to be a working document.” 

Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center exits ‘Immediate Jeopardy’

(6:42 — 14:39)

An inspection last month by the state Department of Health of the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County discovered violations that put residents into “Immediate Jeopardy,” a designation for “a situation in which entity noncompliance has placed the health and safety of recipients in its care at risk for serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment or death,”according to federal regulations.


Sean Hamill is a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter who hasreported extensively onthe pandemic’s impact on the Brighton center. He says that Brighton, the fourth largest nursing home in Pennsylvania, has had the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the state, with 332 residents testing positive. Additionally, 108 staff members have also tested positive, and there have been 82 deaths of residents.


Since the inspection last month, the state has removed Immediate Jeopardy and the nursing home staff has been retrained on infection prevention protocols. Hamill reports that Brighton has been fined and must also follow an ongoing plan of correction, though he adds, it is unclear as to if Brighton is currently following the plan. 

Downtown dining to reopen with a summery twist
(14:41 — 17:48)

People looking for a new way to safely enjoy their favorite downtown eateries are in luck. ThePittsburgh Downtown Partnership has announced plans to work with the City of Pittsburgh, business owners, and others toexpand outdoor dining and walking space downtown

According toChris Watts, the vice president for Mobility for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the primary locations are 6th Street from Liberty Avenue to Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Penn Avenue between 9th St. and 10th St., Strawberry Way, and Market Square. Watts says they are encouraging the businesses to follow CDC and state guidelines concerning social distancing.

"We want to make sure that everyone feels safe and comfortable when they come downtown."

The outdoor dining spaces are expected to be up and running by early July. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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