|Brothers and sisters,
Faithful PIIN member, supporter, ally and friend…
We come to you with urgency and an important message.
We need you to call Mayor Ravenstahl’s office at 412-255-2626 right now and several times a day until next Tuesday with the following message:
- Hi, I’m calling about the city’s decision to remove entirely the community presence on the panels to evaluate the oral exams of people attempting to become a police officer.
- I strongly disagree with that decision, and
- Want Mayor Ravenstahl to meet with PIIN (the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network) immediately to discuss this situation.
- [If you're a resident of Pittsburgh (and a registered voter), make sure you say so!]
- Thank them for their time.
If you you’re a resident of Pittsburgh (and a registered voter), the Mayor is directly accountable to you! You pay taxes and, therefore, pay his salary. He works for us so we have a right to let him know what we want him to do.
We need to flood his office with calls letting him know that we strongly disagree with that decision and that we want him to meet with PIIN immediately. The more people he hears from, the stronger our message will be. It’s up to us to hold him accountable!
Please call right now and several times a day! 412-255-2626. It should only take a minute of your time. You don’t need to have a conversation with them. All you need to do is relay that message. The more times he hears from you the better.
Let us know you’re making calls to the Mayor’s office by replying to this email afterwards.
By doing this you are making a difference. Help us hold the Mayor accountable and make our streets safer!
We need you now. Spread the word to members of your congregation or organization and to your friends, family and colleagues.
Together in the fight for peace and justice,
Rev. Chad Collins of Valley View Presbyterian Church and co-chair of the PIIN Gun Violence Task Force addressing the media at the PIIN press conference opposing the city’s decision to remove community participation on the police oral exam panels – Friday, December 9, 2011. Also present (from left to right): Bob Maddock, Vic Walczak of the ACLU, PIIN President Rev. Richard Freeman, Greg Patrick, members of Bidwell Church, Rev. Dave McFarland, other community members, Rev. Glenn G. Grayson, Rev. John Welch, Blanche Bennett, Rev. Mike Stanton, and Marlene Milik.
(click here to read the white paper written by PIIN President Rev. Richard Freeman)
As many of you know, one of our biggest wins of 2011 was getting a commitment from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to install a fourth person on the police oral exam panel and that this person would be a PIIN spiritual or lay leader (or an interested and committed community member). This was a more significant win than we realized at the time.
That win was taken from us last week. The city made a rash and unjust decision to completely remove the presence of PIIN spiritual and lay leaders as well as committed and trained community members from the police oral exam panels.
The hiring process that potential police officers go through is riddled with bias, discrimination, and is preventing minority candidates from becoming police officers. Adding a fourth person to the panel to evaluate the oral exams given to the candidates is one way to make the playing field more equal and help increase the diversity on the police force.
Why is diversifying the police force important?
The statistics are staggering. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is more than 82% white while only 65 % of the population of the City of Pittsburgh is white. 368 police officers have been hired since 2001 and 3.8% were African American (14 of 368 hired). It gets even worse. Over the past five years the percentage has dropped to less than 3% so that out of 188 police officers hired only 5 were African American. According to the 2010 Census, 25% of the population of the City of Pittsburgh is African American. To top it all, the police themselves acknowledge that due to the pending retirement of many black officers, within 5 years the force could be over 90% white. Yet there are forces within the city that are preventing this reality from changing. This is unacceptable.
We want our streets to be safe. For that to happen there needs to be a good relationship between all segments of the community and the police. For many reasons, that is not the case and there are many possible ways to rebuild the trust and strengthen this relationship. Having a police force that is representative and understanding of our city’s beautiful diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, faith tradition and otherwise is one way for that to happen.
Having a community presence on the panels conducting the oral exams will help diversify the police force and this is what is under attack. Call the Mayor now!