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A national conversation on race relations continues following protests in 2020. The Black Political Empowerment Project or B-PEP took a list of recommendations on how to improve law enforcement relationships to the city of Pittsburgh last July; KDKA's Nicole Ford reports.
- The case in Minneapolis has brought forward a national conversation. So what is being done here in Pittsburgh to bridge the racial divide? Nicole Ford is live now with some answers. Nicole?
NICOLE FORD: Stacey, the Black Political Empowerment Project, or BPEP, gave a list of recommendations to the city last July. There are 20 items on how to improve relationships with law enforcement that the city committed to change. So where does it stand today?
TIM STEVENS: We're going through every commitment that's been made. And we're assessing where we are in terms of implementation of the commitments. Commitments without implementation, they mean something but not much.
NICOLE FORD: BPEP's Chairman Tim Stevens meets with leaders, the city, and police department every six weeks. Some of the recommendations he's following up on include better background checks for officers, recruitment from historic Black colleges, and more training. This includes an updated brochure on how to handle situations on the streets. Officers will have to pass a test on that material.
TIM STEVENS: Our goal is so that the students in the street and the officers in the street have the same bible that they're working from in terms of what to do when stopped by the police. That's a big deal.
NICOLE FORD: Other recommendations are already starting to be seen digitally.
TIM STEVENS: They have begun to use social media more to share with the community of what they're doing and the positive things that they're doing, which we think will increase positive community police relations. And it's get-to-know feature.
NICOLE FORD: In a national race relations roundtable discussion Monday morning, Chief Scott Schubert emphasized the importance of community policing. It's a passion for him, as he continues to walk the beat each day.
SCOTT SCHUBERT: The work must be done daily on the streets in the basement of churches, at civic centers, universities, and corporations.
NICOLE FORD: It's clear this is not an overnight project. But Stevens would like to see more implementation sooner.
TIM STEVENS: Not something on paper, this paper or this paper. It's actions that have been committed to, but actions that are being implemented. And I think hopefully within the next year the public in Pittsburgh will see and hear there is movement. There is progress.
NICOLE FORD: Stevens believes that once these recommendations have all been implemented, that it will minimize negative interactions between police and citizens. His next meeting with the chief is next Thursday, April 8.