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NAACP Leaders: Pittsburgh-Area Police Departments Need More Training

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RANKIN (KDKA) -- State and local NAACP officials held a town hall meeting Friday to discuss the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose.

It's been a tense week and a half in the Pittsburgh area with nearly daily demonstrations after a fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, an unarmed teenager running from an East Pittsburgh traffic stop.

With tensions high, there was a town hall meeting Friday night in the Mount Olive Baptist church in Rankin, where a group of local NAACP leaders urged everyone to be patient as the East Pittsburgh shooting case plays out.

naacp leaders
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Rose was fatally shot by East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld on June 19. District Attorney Stephen Zappala charged Rosfeld with criminal homicide on Wednesday.

The NAACP leaders believe that future similar police shooting incidents could be avoided if officers were given more training.

"These small departments can apply for grant money to help pay for some of these officers to acquire their degree over a period of time. There's grant money there," Richard Stewart Jr., the President of the Pittsburgh NAACP chapter, said.

Stewart believes police need training in programs including bias and diversity.

"These boroughs are gonna have to acquire more funds to send these individuals to training on a constant basis," Stewart said. "You just don't go through the police academy and that's it. You have to constantly update and upgrade your training because it changes, it evolves on a regular basis."

"The reality of the fact is that [Rosfeld] pulled his gun and fired it way too quickly, particularly given that there was no threat to him. But it does, it goes back to training," Kenneth Houston, of the NAACP Allegheny East chapter, said.


Two local African-American police chiefs say they're confident that even though now there's a lot of mistrust in police, they think that will change, but it won't happen overnight.

Braddock Police Chief Guy Collins said he didn't want the community to lose faith and said his officers are out in the street every day trying to protect everyone.

"We want to make a difference. We want to affect a positive influence on mankind," Rankin Police Chief Ryan Wooten said. "My officers, my female officers and my male officers in Rankin, we make no money, but they are always here at work."

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