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Community Groups Want Input On New Chief Of Police

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Several community groups say they want more input before Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hires a new police chief.

Former chief Nate Harper was forced to resign because the FBI is investigating the department.

The groups want to hold hearings on the subject before a decision is made.

With the announcement of this public hearing, a group today says the city has a big opportunity in front of them with the position of chief now open.

They claim there's a chance to create relations between the community and police like we've never seen before.

"We will never have the city we could have until we break down the historic barriers and negative interactions between our police and our community," Tim Stevens of the Black Political Empowerment Project said.

Community groups joined with the ACLU to announce that next Wednesday, the community will have the chance to speak out on what they want from the next of chief of police during a public hearing at City Council.

Wanting the community police serve to have a role in who the next chief is, the ACLU says above all, there needs to be accountability.

"When that's not happening, you see wide spread police misconduct and you see corruption, and that's exactly what we're seeing today," Vic Walszak said.

Activists want to see a chief that is committed to the community, to lowering crime, and to hiring a more diverse force.

Policing needs the force to look like the community. It's in the best interest of the police. It's in the best interest of law enforcement and it's in the best interest of the community.

"The most important is how can we establish a philosophy of policing that will engage the community as equal partners," Rev. Ricky Burgess said.

The group has invited Mayor Ravenstahl as well as the mayoral candidates to attend the meeting, hoping they attend and take an interest in what the community has to say.


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