The criticism of Chief Harper was unfair

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In reading Tony Norman's recent column, "Harper Hardly a Scapegoat in His Downfall" (Feb. 22), I find several comments unnerving and misguided.

Mr. Norman stated that he had problems with Chief Nate Harper's "shoddy oversight of the Jordan Miles affair, the lack of diversity within the police force and its terrible relations with the black community" and "his capitulation to police anarchy during the G-20 summit in 2009." In Mr. Norman's usual vitriol, he fails to mention some glaring weaknesses in his argument.

The three officers involved in the Jordan Miles situation were all but vindicated by the local, state and federal agencies that investigated the incident, as well as a federal jury. If it wasn't for one African American juror from Stanton Heights (Zone 5's district) who stated that he never heard about this incident, these officers would have been cleared entirely.

Chief Harper and his staff have done everything in their power to increase diversity in the department, with the exception of the ridiculous suggestion by Councilman Ricky Burgess to lower the standards for employment. To quote beloved Steeler Coach Mike Tomlin, "The standard is the standard." Minority hopefuls need to raise their standards to apply, not the other way around.

As far as the "terrible relations with the black community," may I point out that the black community has terrible relations with the black community? The homicide rate and black-on-black violent crimes in Zone 5 alone are spiraling out of control. Review the statistics for yourself, Mr. Norman. Numbers don't lie.

Mr. Norman's most egregious comments were regarding the "police anarchy during the G-20 summit." I worked that summit in 2009, and I can tell you firsthand that any and all "anarchy" was planned and carried out by the anarchists themselves, specifically the damage caused in the Oakland business district and the Lawrenceville community. These young, white males had no intent on peaceful protest; they desired only property damage and anarchy.

Every department involved performed optimally considering the spectrum and scope of the event, evidenced by the minimal damages awarded to the plaintiffs recently, mostly coming from them raging through the University of Pittsburgh during what could only be described as a riot.

Whatever comes of Chief Harper's removal will play out in time. He led this department well through six years, separate from the ongoing investigations, and attempting to place blame on him for the above incidents is shallow at best.

The writer is a Pittsburgh police officer.



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