Allegheny County Council to hold hearing on countywide police review board |

Allegheny County Council to hold hearing on countywide police review board

Jamie Martines
The Allegheny County Courthouse.

Over a year after Allegheny County Council took the first steps to form an independent, countywide police review board, the council is moving toward a vote on the ordinance to establish the body.

The Special Committee on Independent Police Review, chaired by District 10 Councilman DeWitt Walton, D-Hill District, will meet Wednesday to review the proposed ordinance. Members of the public interested in commenting may preregister online at the county council website, or call the council office at 412-350-6490.

Community groups have been advocating for a countywide police review board for years. But those calls intensified after the June 2018 fatal shooting of Antwon Rose, an unarmed teenager shot by East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld.

Since then, DeWitt and District 11 Councilman Paul Klein, D-Point Breeze, have held several public meetings to gather input on a draft ordinance. They introduced legislation to form the police review board in December.

The countywide police review board is modeled after the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, which has been operating since 1997. It would review complaints of alleged misconduct by Allegheny County law enforcement professionals, but any municipality or municipal authority would be allowed to opt in, according to the proposed ordinance.

The board would consist of nine voting members — all unpaid positions — nominated by members of county council and the county executive, and confirmed by a council vote.

Currently employed law enforcement officers would not be eligible to serve on the board. A maximum of two board members could be people who have previously worked in law enforcement, the proposed ordinance said.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 4 p.m. in the Allegheny County Courthouse Gold Room.

Council will vote on the ordinance at the regularly scheduled Aug. 27 meeting, Walton said.

Recent police-involved shootings in Penn Hills, Ross, Shaler and South Park did not influence that timeline, he said.

“While those shootings have generated some concern, it has not had an impact on the schedule for the legislation,” Walton said. “We anticipated that we would do this coming out of the summer recess for council, with a vote to follow immediately.”

If the ordinance passes, council will then work on appointing members to the board, identifying staff to carry out day-to-day operations and allocating resources for next year’s operating budget, Walton said.

A regular county council meeting is also scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 5 p.m. at the same location.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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