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BPEP sends letter to Pittsburgh police after Tyre Nichols' death

BPEP sends letter to Pittsburgh police after Tyre Nichols death
BPEP sends letter to Pittsburgh police after Tyre Nichols death 02:44

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Memphis police beating of Tyre Nichols has caused anger across the country, including right here in Pittsburgh.

Community groups and leaders said police violence like this is why community-police relations can be fractured.  

"That is un-American that we have to feel that way as Black people, just because we're Black or Brown or whatever. That's wrong, but it's real," Black Political Empowerment Project President Tim Stevens said.  

Stevens sent a letter asking for Pittsburgh police to address de-escalation, remind officers they are to protect and serve — not abuse — and stop traffic stops for certain minor violations. 

He added if there is any abuse, there needs to be accountability.  

"If there is a tragedy involved, they will be fired and charges will be levied against them. We have to send a message," Stevens said.  

Pittsburgh police said what happened in Memphis is inexcusable and it was a strong statement to investigate and charge the officers. They added they don't have a group like the SCORPION unit involved in Nichols' death.  

The Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board says there needs to be better training and that training needs to address human interactions, not force.  

"We're not paying them to walk the streets and behave like people on the streets might choose to behave. They are to be professional," Pittsburgh Citizens Police Review Board President Beth Pittinger said.  

Pittinger believes Pittsburgh's change in education requirements is similar to Memphis police. Two of the officers involved in the stop of Nichols joined the department after a reported "lowering of standards." 

"It's outrageous that you can have licensing requirements, certification requirements for other professions that aren't equivalent to what police have to endure," Pittinger said.  

Mayor Ed Gainey's office says that is not the case here. His office said officers are still required to complete the same number of credits but much of it can come while they are in the training academy. His office believes this opens the door for more officers to be able to join the force.  

The culture of police is still under fire by the community.  

"This was five Black officers killing a Black man, so it's in the culture. That piece of the culture needs to be uprooted thrown out and start over," Stevens said.  

For some groups like the Take Action Advocacy Group, just reforming the police is not enough. Those groups believe abolition must be taken to address the root cause of the problem. They say at the minimum, municipalities need to join the Allegheny County Independent Police Review Board to hold officers accountable.  

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