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Allegheny County Council Votes To Approve Police Review Board

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Allegheny County is one step closer to having a police review board.

On Tuesday, Allegheny County Council voted 9-5 in favor of a new police review board. One council member abstained.

The independent review board would provide oversight on allegations of misconduct against police officers in the county.

The council meeting started with public comment and turned to a back and forth on delaying the vote.

Once that was sorted out, Allegheny County Council voted in favor of a county police review board after a lot of emotion.

"We need this. We can't do this any longer. We gotta do what's right," said Allegheny County Council member DeWitt Walton.

Bethany Hallam sits on Allegheny County Council and voted for the bill. She said it would be mandatory for Allegheny County police to fall under the review board, but added that it would be up to the individual borough council to decide if their own police forces would fall under the board.

She said Tuesday night's vote is historic and a long-time coming for the community.

"We have seen the brutality of community members from police throughout the county who have no central body oversight," said Hallam.

Sam DeMarco, who voted against the bill, said he feels money can be better spent on other things like providing body cameras for county police who don't have them. He's currently working on a bill to make that happen.

"I believe that's the way to provide true transparency and accountability to the community," said DeMarco.

In a release, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he will sign the legislation into law. Once the bill is signed, it will become law on Jan. 1, 2022.

"I want to thank council members for their work on this initiative. Special congratulations to Council Members Walton and Klein on the final passage of this legislation. Even with the defeat of a similar bill in August 2019, these two kept working at the legislation and building consensus to get us to this point," Fitzgerald said.

"I look forward to working with our municipal partners so that we can include as many police departments as possible in this effort. This bill, and the resulting board, will provide an additional avenue for public accountability from law enforcement in our region. This is a great opportunity for the region moving forward," Fitzgerald added in the statement.

Hallam said it's time for county citizens to be protected. On top of that, she says the board would provide support and training for police.

KDKA also reached out to Allegheny County Police. They had no comment.

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