Pittsburgh officers prioritizing ‘relational policing’ to bridge community divide, chief says

PITTSBURGH — In a virtual discussion on inclusion and diversity with police chiefs across the country, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert made it clear he is working to create change.

Schubert said he is working with his officers to prioritize “relational policing” -- in an effort to bridge the divide between police and the community.

“People are done talking. They don’t want to hear, they want to see we are doing intentional things to make substantive change in what we do. I think it’s critically important,” Schubert said.

It’s a timely topic, as Monday marked the first day of the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing charges in the death of George Floyd. His death sparked outrage across the country, and protests popped up everywhere -- including here in Pittsburgh.

“Relational policing” is the philosophy he tries to instill in his officers in Pittsburgh. To prove he could back it up, Schubert walked every beat in the city’s 90 neighborhoods to connect with individuals in the community.

“We are not in this one side against the other,” said Schubert. “We are all in this together and we have to work hard to make sure this happens.”

In an effort to better understand all sides, Schubert explained the multiple efforts the department takes to be more inclusive -- including touring the Heinz History Center’s slavery exhibit.

When asked about the prevalence of white supremacy in Pittsburgh, Schubert said it all starts will calling out hate.

One hate crime is too many hate crimes and we know that. We are fortunate in Pittsburgh that the numbers are very low,” he said. “We must all stand as one and call out hate and discrimination and ignorance whenever we see it and wherever we hear it.”