The local branch of the NAACP held a town hall in Rankin Friday evening to call for consistent policies across the 120 municipal police departments in the Pittsburgh area, following last week's fatal shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose by a police officer.
“All their training is different," said Greg Rogers, state criminal justice chair for the NAACP. "Some don’t even have policies.”
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Policies include use of force, hiring, code of conduct and standard of dress, to name a few, said Deborah Brown, president of the East Pittsburgh NAACP branch.
“What we can do is look to see who has a policy and work to have a consistent policy throughout all these municipalities,” she said.
Brown suggested starting with policies implemented by the Allegheny County police department, and collaborate with local police chiefs and municipal officials to adopt similar ones.
At Friday's meeting, NAACP leaders also fielded questions from the two dozen people in attendance about the criminal case against East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, who shot Rose. Rogers said the proceedings will take months.
“I ask you to be patient," he said.
Rose was unarmed when he was shot in the back by the officer, who had pulled over the car that the teen was riding in. Police say the car had been involved in an earlier drive-by shooting.
Attendee Craig Thomas said attending meetings like the one Friday night is key to change the status quo. He said he was disappointed by the turnout, adding that far more people need to get active.
“We need to do more than just vote," he said. "We need to get into politics.”
Brown agreed, adding that pushing for change must extend beyond a single victory.
"We have to hold their feet to the fire," she said. "We can't get complacent."