What could police reform look like in Pittsburgh? Community leaders weigh in

PITTSBURGH — As the phrase “defund the police” has been spread across the country during protests for police reform, some leaders of Pittsburgh’s Black community came together Tuesday to explain exactly what that means.

“This is not just a one-time thing because George Floyd was murdered and the nation is screaming ‘defund the police.’ This is something that needs to be ongoing and a way of life,” said Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability.

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Urbankind Institute and 1Hood Media is hosting a weekly series of townhall meetings called “What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know.”

On Tuesday, they focused on police reform.

“It is not a complete shutting down and getting rid of all police and police systems. It is: stop putting so much money in systems that are militarizing our police,” said Dr. Cheryl Hall-Russell, president of BW3.

They all agreed not to take away police, but rather use some of the money elsewhere.

Leaders said they would rather see some of the money be invested in people and businesses in Black communities.

Dr. Jamil Bey, CEO of Urbankind Institute, said officials should put money into “things that improve people’s lives,” like healthcare, housing and education, because “those things reduce crime.”

They also believe adding more officers is not the answer to all problems.