police community relations

Kevin Gavin / 90.5 WESA

Four years ago, Rev. John Welch, dean of students at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, was a strong supporter of Bill Peduto in his successful bid for mayor.

Four years later, Welch wants to unseat Peduto.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Politicians from the local and state level are partnering in a new way to find out what issues are most important to Pittsburgh’s black residents and how to address them.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s acting Police Chief Scott Schubert assured a group gathered in Larimer Wednesday night that he would follow through with former chief Cameron McLay’s vision for the force in improving community relations.

“We can’t be successful out in the community if we don’t have the support of the public,” he said Wednesday.

Jose Luis Magana / AP Images

A Baltimore judge cleared Edward Nero, the second of six police officers to stand trial in the Freddie Gray case, of all charges on Monday.

Gray sustained a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody last April. The previous trial of Officer William Porter resulted in a mistrial, the state plans to retry Porter later this year.

90.5 WESA

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Thursday officials should re-examine the use of police dogs while dealing with suspects, as community members continue to question the fatal shooting of a man who killed a police K-9.

Dickelbers / Wikipedia

Bringing down Pittsburgh's homicide rate was a major public safety priority this year for the city's bureau of police.

According to data provided by police, there were 71 homicides in 2014, nearly one-third more than the previous year and the city's highest volume since officers investigated 74 homicides in 2008.

But things might be improving, police Chief Cameron McLay said. 

Official White House photo / Pete Souza

How Pittsburgh and Allegheny County can increase opportunities for boys and young men of color is the focus of two local forums this week.

screenshot from CPRB hearing video

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh and an officer with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police alleging intimidation and harassment of three black residents in September 2013.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The American Civil Liberties Union and the City of Pittsburgh have reached an agreement on "cutting-edge" improvements to police hiring methods, including strengthening minority hiring procedures. The settlement agreement stems from a federal class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in August 2012 on behalf of minority applicants who scored high in Pittsburgh Police testing but were passed over for job offers. We'll speak with Ellen Doyle, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

Doyle says that previously, the city of Pittsburgh was being forced to diversify its ranks by hiring an African American and a woman for every four hires, as outlined in a Supreme Court order. She explains that this is no longer the case:

"The city was reporting for a number of years that [the police force] was disproportionately white in terms of the population of the city. But the difference between what happened with the prior federal lawsuit and what happened now is that the Supreme Court has seriously reduced the use of any race-conscious remedy." -Ellen Doyle 

Also on the program, after rioting and chaos in Ferguson and Baltimore, how should police departments adapt? How can departments encourage minorities to join the police force?

Essential Pittsburgh: Oil Train Safety with Senator Bob Casey

Mar 19, 2015
Jason Rogers/Wikimedia

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is pushing legislation that would bring emergency managers and technical experts together to improve training and equipment for emergency responders handling oil train derailments. Recent derailments have caused explosions and fires in recent months. Sen Casey joins us by phone from Washington.

Casey explains that the legislation he is sponsoring -- the Response Act -- would do several things:

"It would examine ... training issues, resource issues, funding levels, access to communication -- all kinds of information and subject areas that [the relevant agencies and technical experts] should review. ... This is particularly important to small communities that don't have the resources, sometimes, that larger communities do."

Also in the program, Pitt law professor David Harris talks about Pittsburgh's selection for a new Justice Department initiative, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her favorite flower shows travel destinations.