B-PEP Compiles Recommendations To Improve Police, Community Relations

The recommendations come in response to the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II

Shelby Cassesse
April 15, 2019 - 3:14 pm

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), in collaboration with several other local organizations, has compiled several recommendations to improve community relationships with police.

The recommendations are in response to the June shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II by former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld. Rosfeld was eventually found not guilty of homicide in a March trial. 

B-PEP Chairman and CEO Tim Stevens believes the recommendations, if implemented, will reduce negative interactions between the community and police.

"The Black Political Empowerment Project feels that if there was ever a time, in recent history, to review efforts to improve community-police relations and the level of professionalism, to revisit police policies and procedures, and the laws that affect how police are tried in the courts when they have killed citizens of the communities they are paid to protect and serve, that time has come," he said.

There are eight recommendations in total, covering education in Pittsburgh Public Schools, procedures and laws for police officers who have used deadly force and increased training for officers. 

  • All area schools should be required to educate their students on the "You and the Police" brochure, which highlights the do's and do not's of interactions with officers. Students should be required to take a quiz on the brochure.
  • The public should have an independent citizen police review board to provide analysis of questionable interactions between police and members of the community.
  • The Allegheny County Police Department should take over some police responsibilities of smaller area departments, including racial sensitivity training and cultural competence.
  • Pittsburgh Police should provide smaller departments with the Bureau's Implicit Bias Training 
  • Officials should create a decertification process for police officers who have a history of misconduct.
  • B-PEP is urging for the consolidation of some of the area's smaller police departments, as well as increased training for all affected officers.
  • Police Departments should review procedures for interacting with those who have mental health disabilities. 
  • B-PEP suggests changing the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Use of Force law to be less lenient on officers

The final recommendation has received support from State Representatives Summer Lee and Ed Gainey, who have requested a change to the law. As it currently stands, the law allows for the use of deadly force if it is necessary to prevent a person from escaping arrest and if that person possesses a deadly weapon or otherwise indicates he or she will endanger human life unless arrested without delay.

"Our legislation seeks to eliminate effectuating an arrest as a justification for the use of deadly force," Reps. Lee and Gainey stated in a letter to members of the state House of Representatives. "Instead, our proposal would mandate that de-escalation and non-lethal force options be exhausted prior to lethal force being deployed and that lethal force only be used and justified to prevent imminent threat to life."

The recommendations will be distributed to local police and public officials.