Mount Pleasant Township Police Chief Lou McQuillan returns to his office at the municipal building in Hickory, Pa., on Monday, March 15, 2021. McQuillan, who recently announced he is running for a vacant magisterial district judge post, was listed as one of four administrators of a private Facebook group called the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom. Many current and retired officers who are in the group spent the year criticizing chiefs that took a knee or officers who marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, who they called “terrorists,” or “thugs.”
An-Li became a reporter while completing her law degree at Stanford. In law school, she wrote about housing affordability, criminal justice and economic development, among other topics. She also served as the intern to NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in Washington, DC, helping Ms. Totenberg to cover the U.S. Supreme Court and other legal matters. Originally from Pittsburgh, An-Li interned with the investigations team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before joining 90.5 WESA in August
(Pittsburgh) — A private Facebook group where local police officers reportedly made racist and transphobic comments has drawn swift condemnation, with critics saying it underscored the need for accountability.
The Associated Press reported Monday that the group “Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom” has operated for nearly four years. Its more than 2,000 members included current and former officers and police chiefs, mostly from Allegheny County, according to the AP.
The news outlet reported that some encouraged violence and harassment against Black Lives Matter protesters and law-enforcement personnel who supported them. It also discovered transphobic comments directed at former Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, who is transgender.
Keith Srakocic / AP Photo
Mount Pleasant Township Police Chief Lou McQuillan answers the door at the municipal building in Hickory, Pa., on Monday, March 15, 2021. McQuillan, who recently announced he is running for a vacant magisterial district judge post, was listed as one of four administrators of a private Facebook group called the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom. Many current and retired officers who are in the group spent the year criticizing chiefs that took a knee or officers who marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, who they called “terrorists,” or “thugs.”
Democratic state Rep. Austin Davis, of McKeesport, called the posts “disturbing.”
“It clearly shows there is some bias, particularly among the officers who made those comments,” said Davis, who represents parts of West Mifflin, where an officer was named in the AP report.
“Furthermore, I think [the Facebook group] really highlights the need for citizen police review boards,” he added.
“We have so many police departments in Allegheny County,” Davis said. “Many of them are underfunded. Many of those officers are not trained at the same level. And so there needs to be a level of accountability.”
Demonstrators carry signs as they gather in a street during a march in Pittsburgh, Saturday, May 30, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day, May 25.
“The reality is, the departments that probably would opt into it are not the departments that probably need the oversight,” Davis said.
He acknowledged, however, that the GOP majority will likely block his and Fontana’s proposals. Both bills remain in committee.
Democratic Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton, who has championed a countywide police review board, supports mandatory participation for municipal forces.
On Monday, he said he was not surprised by the revelations about the police Facebook group.
“It just creates the need for greater scrutiny and accountability for each municipality,” Walton said. Police officers “hold such sensitive and powerful positions that, if they’re going to be held in high regard and respect, then their behaviors also have to be beyond reproach.”