Mayor Peduto voices support for police following FOP criticism of department reforms

Mayor Peduto voices support for police following FOP criticism of department reforms

PITTSBURGH — One day after the president of police union criticized Mayor Bill Peduto calling for police reform, he appeared on a podcast to voice his support for law enforcement.

“The Appeal” produces news and commentary on police, politics and the legal system in the United States.

The vice president of the police union is responding to Mayor Bill Peduto’s news conference calling for police reforms.

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“I have a real hard time we would be a safe society without police officers. You would really have to convince me that would be the case,” he said.

Patrick Knepp, vice president of the FOP Pitt Lodge #1, issued a statement Sunday evening.

In it, he talked about the officers that were injured during violent protests in the city of Pittsburgh in late May and early June. He also touched on reforms that have been implemented in the Pittsburgh Police Bureau.

Peduto held a news conference Thursday to call for investigations into the tactics police used during a protest in East Liberty on June 1.

Here’s the full statement from Knepp:

“Everyone should know the protests Pittsburgh involve some people who aren’t interested about justice for George Floyd. How does hurling frozen bottles of water, bricks, and IEDs made from fireworks bring justice? How does trashing businesses bring justice?

We have 11 officers injured so far, with multiple concussions, broken bones, cuts, and abrasions.

Mayor Peduto and his Chief of Staff Dan Gilman had a press conference on Thursday June 4, 2020 to promote themselves politically with proposed law enforcement reforms, but they never once mentioned the officers injured or their work to quell violence destroying our city.

There was a lot of grandstanding, but here’s what you need to know: The reforms they announced have been implemented in the Pittsburgh Police Department since 2015. I know because I was one of the people on the curriculum committee and was one of the primary instructors. Our work occurred when Pittsburgh was named one of just six cities by the Obama administration in a national initiative on procedural justice reforms. The curriculum we produced was lauded by initiative officials and was adopted by the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission (MPOETC). In other words, our work on social justice reform issues was adopted and used to train police officers across the commonwealth.

Mayor Peduto and Mr. Gilman: How do you stand and announce initiatives already in place? How do you, as Democrats, attack a union that faithfully worked to address social justice under the Obama administration? The FOP helped implement social justice reforms in the Pittsburgh Police, and it appears you have omitted that fact. Why?

The mayor also inferred a Pittsburgh police officer lied based on his interpretation of protestor videos. Mayor, if you want to know if people were hurling projectiles — look at injury reports. Instead you believe anarchists hijacking a peaceful protest over an officer with a solid record of public service. Shameful.

I have served my country in the military, and I have fought, defended, saved, helped, and bled for citizens, and my fellow brothers and sisters of all races, religions, genders, and sexual preferences in Pittsburgh for 26 years. I have been injured and needed surgeries protecting the citizens of Pittsburgh. I have been recognized nationally for my actions.

As the Vice President of the FOP, I ran back and forth during the Tree of Life mass shooting to keep you informed, but now you say we are the problem and accuse a member of lying. What gall!

Mayor Peduto and Mr. Gilman: You talk about unity and police sacrifice when monsters are stopped, but paint your own officers with a broad brush when officers in Minneapolis are charged with murder. I learned as a 21-year-old sergeant in the U.S. Army a huge part of leadership is trust and accountability. I believe your actions currently have eroded those characteristics.

What happened in Minneapolis is tragic. The justice system is in gear, so why aren't leaders asking people to come to the table instead of pointing fingers, assigning blame, and trashing communities? What happened to the actions of a few not defining the whole when talking about law enforcement?

Lastly, everyone is blaming police for social injustice, but where is the accountability of our elected officials? Where is the blame for inadequate schools in largely minority communities? Inner city schools are failing generations of our children. Where is the blame for lack of new business opportunities in those same neighborhoods? Police officers cannot change these issues, but elected officials have made us their scapegoats.

Many newly elected politicians elected to help are failing constituents and blaming cops. Hollywood and sports are doing the same. Pittsburgh Police will continue to work at becoming better while ensuring public safety.

Maybe instead of casting blame on easy targets elected officials might want to look in the mirror. Celebrities may want to invest in communities instead of bailing out anarchists undermining peaceful protests.

Until that happens, I humbly ask all to help unite — not divide. Bring elected officials to the table instead of violence to the streets. I, along with all my fellow officers, pray we overcome this.

Until then, and as always, we hold the line for our citizens.”

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