A true civil servant


#endwhitesilenceThe man holding that sign is Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay and he caught a lot of flack for holding it in a Pittsburgh establishment on New Year’s eve because as the police union president for the PPD claims the chief is saying all Pittsburgh Police are racists.  This was the police chief’s reply

It appears my having been photographed with a sign supporting racial justice at work and “white silence” has offended some. If any of my PBP family was offended, I apologize. You are very important to me and I would never hurt you purposefully. Let me explain the back story:

I stopped at a coffee shop at First Night, and ran into the group seeking people of all races to join the discussion about racial inequality and injustice. We spoke for a few minutes about how implicit, or unconscious bias results in misunderstanding on all sides, and how the need is for dialogue to clear up misunderstanding. They asked for me to take a picture holding a sign.

The sign indicated my willingness to challenge racial problems in the workplace. I am so committed. If there are problems in the PBP related to racial injustice, I will take action to fix them.

To me, the term “white silence” simply means that we must be willing to speak up to address issues of racial injustice, poverty, etc. In my heart, I believe we all must come together as community to address real world problems; and I am willing to be a voice to bring community together.

I saw no indictment of police or anyone else in this sign, but I do apologize to any of you who felt I was not supporting you; that was not my intent.

The reality of U.S. policing is that our enforcement efforts have a disparate impact on communities of color. This is a statistical fact. You know, as well as I, the social factors driving this reality. The gross disparity in wealth and opportunity is evident in our city. Frustration and disorder are certain to follow. The predominant patterns of our city’s increased violence involves black victims as well as actors. If we are to address this violence, we must work together with our communities of color.

We, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, need to acknowledge how this reality feels to those impacted communities. Crime and disorder take us to the disadvantaged communities, which are predominantly those of color. The disparities in police arrest and incarceration rates that follow are not by design, but they can feel that way to some people in those communities.

I know, because I have been there too. My own street drug enforcement efforts were well intended but had an impact I would not have consciously chosen. In retrospect, we should have been far more engaged with those in the communities where we were doing our high-impact, zero tolerance type policing; to obtain the consent of those we were policing.

We will be engaging in training to refine our policing efforts in the near future. In the mean time, simply approach your job mindfully, with a continued motivation to protect and serve.

Please beware also, race impacts how we view one another, and unconscious bias applies to how we deal with the public. It can also impact how we judge one another; I intend we will confront both through training.

I support your efforts to keep our communities safe, and will back your best efforts to do so. I trust and have faith in you. I also support efforts to improve and restore the communities’ perceptions of justice. The next time you see me engaging in discussions supporting social justice, please remember, we all all guardians of the constitution. This is the mission we all took an oath to uphold.

Please forgive me if I have offended, as that was not my intent. I will be visiting all of the Zones and work units in the coming couple weeks to allow opportunity for open discussion, and look forward to being able to talk these tough issues through.

In the mean time, thank you for your service!

 

I salute police chief McLay and assert police departments all over America need chiefs who are as dedicated to insuring proper policing for all citizens of a town or city.  I also applaud McLay for making himself available to the rank and file….not hiding in his office or ivory tower, to answer questions and concerns they may have!  I’d be happy to see my tax dollars go towards the salary of such a police officer; he appears to understand the meaning of being a civil servant.

 

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Three Cheers for Pittsburgh City Council’s respect for the 1st Amendment


This story is an example of government truly protecting the Constitution in the face of abuse of power on the part of law enforcement.  A citizen  was simply told he couldn’t “flip” someone off and was ticketed when he did.  Fortunately he didn’t let it stop there and instead chose to exert his rights and in the process was supported by the city council where he lived.  Here’s his story.

A man who flipped the bird to a Pittsburgh police officer three years ago is speaking out after the City Council tentatively approved paying $50,000 to settle his lawsuit.In April 2006, David Hackbart was trying to park on a busy street in Squirrel Hill when, he said, the driver behind him wouldn’t budge.”After inching back toward him to give him the message I was trying to park, he wouldn’t (move). I got very frustrated and I flipped him off,” Hackbart said.

Hackbart, 35, of Butler, wasn’t done using his middle finger.”I heard a voice outside the car telling me not to do that and that frustrated me too. So, I flipped that person off and that turned out to be a police officer,” Hackbart said. “I tried to explain to him it was constitutionally protected, what I did. He did not want to hear it and gave me a citation.”The incident launched a federal civil rights case, which was postponed indefinitely at the request of lawyers on both sides. The case has tentatively ended with the City Council’s approval Tuesday of a proposed $50,000 settlement. Another vote is scheduled next week for final approval.Hackbart said his lawsuit was about change — not money.”Put some sort of policy in place that the officers are trained better and there is some sort of supervision in officers writing tickets so people don’t have to go through what I went through,” Hackbart said.Hackbart said there’s lesson for all to learn from his obscene gesture.”I don’t advocate people using the middle finger for (any) reason, any situation, 24 hours a day, but if someone ran across a certain situation in mind, at least he knows his rights,” Hackbart said.Of the proposed $50,000 settlement, Hackbart said he would receive only $10,000. His lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union would split the remaining $40,000.

To all responsible for protecting Hackbart’s first amendment rights, and a way of life we claim to want to preserve and which drove us to invade two countries a heartfelt thanks for your diligence.  You too are soldiers in our war on terror.