Community Issues

Allegheny County Committed to Considering Review Board

Calls for an independent police review board getting louder after acquittal in fatal police shooting

Allegheny County Council plans to move forward with legislation to create a civilian police review board amid new calls for such a board after the acquittal of the former East Pittsburgh police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager. So says County Councilman Dewitt Walton in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Dewitt Walton is co-sponsor of a bill to create an Allegheny County Police Review Board

But Walton, D-Hill District, tells the PG despite recent events, council isn't putting the legislation on a fast track. "I have held off holding a committee hearing because I'm trying to build a greater sense of consensus regarding the issue. I anticipate holding that special hearing probably early June."

The calls for a county-wide board started after 17-year old Antwon Rose of Rankin, was shot and killed last June by former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld. A jury acquitted Rosfeld a week ago.

A county review board would not file charges against police, but instead would make recommendations to prosecutors

So far, Mr. Walton and cosponsor, Paul Klein, D-Point Breeze, have had public hearings and introduced an ordinance in December. The bill was referred to a special committee. No additional action has been taken since.

There is some opposition. At-large Councilman Sam DeMarco, R-North Fayette told the Post-Gazette: "People calling for this are just frustrated with the verdict in the Antwon Rose case and are just looking for some other way to get the result they want to see. That worries me." He says some municipalities don't want a county-wide board. "If a community wants [a civilian police review board], they can start their own."

Another option would be to encourage municipalities to ask the city's Citizen Police Review Board to investigate incidents and make recommendations. The city's board has been in operation for two decades.

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