Citizen Police Review Board

An incoming Pennsylvania state senator wants to make sure there are no incidents in the commonwealth similar to those in Ferguson, Missouri and New York where local prosecutors investigated the deaths of citizens at the hands of police officers, and no charges were filed.

State Senator-elect Arthur Haywood (D-Montgomery) said Friday he will introduce legislation January 6, the day he’s sworn in to office, that would require the state Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor whenever there’s a deadly force incident and a police officer is involved.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB) has recently been criticized for its lack of effectiveness, but despite having three empty board seats and a mayor and city council who are taking a long time to fill the posts, the board feels it is getting a lot of work done.

Many of the current board members were never officially appointed.

“On October 31st the terms expired. Nobody was succeeded by appointment as of December 31st, so 30 days had lapsed and they were automatically retained in their seats and then what happened was individuals moved. They relocated and were then disqualified from continuing with the board which created the two city council vacancies,” said Beth Pittinger, CPRB’s Executive Director.

Tensions ran high Tuesday as members of Pittsburgh City Council met to wrestle with the issue of community-police relations.

Up for discussion were three bills sponsored by Councilman Ricky Burgess, one of which would authorize the city to spend up to $150,000 on a police-community partnership program called Unleashing Respect Project, or URP.

Pittsburgh City Council gave unanimous preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow the Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB) to review police regulations before they're implemented, rather than afterward.

The measure, sponsored by Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, will be put to a final vote on Tuesday.