Co-chairs of The Institute’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Policy Committee, State Senator Randy Vulakovich and Mr. Renny Clark, Interim Executive Director of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA), are planning to develop and host an educational forum, which will address the future of policing, including emerging issues and challenges. The purpose of the forum will be to provide a neutral platform for law enforcement officers, municipal officials, and community leaders to develop a better understanding of the issues and concerns surrounding policing, and to address those concerns to ensure the continuous improvement of our region’s public safety and law enforcement environment. The forum will offer presentations, discussion, and policy options based on national best practices.
To shape this forum, the Institute is in the process of hosting a series of focus-group discussions with different police departments in Allegheny County. The purpose of these sessions is to identify issues of concern and to learn more about our region’s policing environment through the lens of law enforcement. Potential discussion topics include mental health crisis intervention, media coverage of police and its impact on community relations, and policing as an occupation. The Institute held discussions with officers from Pittsburgh, Peters Township, and Castle Shannon, and it will host additional discussions with officers over the course of 2018. The results from the focus group discussions will be analyzed to identify common themes and topics. The Institute will supplement these findings with additional research to create a synthesized report that will assist the policy committee in the development of the forum agenda and the identification of guest presenters.