By Ryan Deto
PITTSBURGH — On Tuesday, Allegheny County Council voted to create an Independent Police Review Board for the county police department after a two-year effort to create a commission that would provide oversight and accountability to the region’s second largest police force.
The review board will be established in 2022, with nine members and will have jurisdiction over the Allegheny County Police Department. Other municipal departments throughout the county can opt-in to the review board. The bill was supported by nine of the 12 Democrats on council, and was opposed by three Democrats and two Republicans.
As WESA-FM reported, opponents criticized the measure, saying it would not accomplish what supporters wanted, and instead said funds should be spent on body cameras for police officers. But before the vote, Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton, who represents the city’s Hill District, shared two personal stories about being racially profiled by police.
Walton is one of two Black councilors on the 15-member body and has worked in the Civil Rights division of the United Steelworkers union for more than 25 years. He was raised in Gary, Ind., and in an impassioned speech, shares two incidents of police encounters he had in Northern Indiana. The full audio of the short speech was shared by WESA-FM journalist Chris Potter.
This is what DeWitt Walton said about his experiences with police before County Council voted to create a police review board. It's one of the most anguished speeches I can recall hearing from an elected official. (Warning: contains racial epithet) https://t.co/l9Uv20zieK
— Chris Potter (@CPotterPgh) April 27, 2021