University of Pittsburgh holds conversations about race, policing problems

University of Pittsburgh holds conversations about race, policing problems

The death of George Floyd is prompting discussion all over the country, including in Pittsburgh.

David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, and author of ‘A City Divided,’ spoke today about how often police shoot and kill civilians, the racial divide and how we move forward.

“Black people dealing with police do not experience the same reality as white people. White people, you don’t believe it? Ask some black people, I would suggest,” Harris said.

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He said there needs to be better tracking of violent police incidents, and noted that most of the monitoring comes from the media, not an official database.

“What we know probably understates the overall picture on police use of force,” Harris said.

Harris also thinks the use of force law needs to change, so that officers only use deadly force when absolutely necessary. He believes in decriminalizing certain crimes, such as minor traffic issues and drug offenses tied to addiction to reduce the number of times police come into contact with civilians. Better transparency and accountability in police departments would also help, he said.

“We all hear about it and we all see it on the streets. There must be real accountability. Not just with policy, supervision in the police department and holding people’s feet to the fire,” Harris said.

If you missed the event and wanted to watch it, you can find ‘Race, Police, and Unarmed Civilian Deaths : What Can Be Done?’ here on the Center on Race & Social Problems YouTube page.

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