by Helen Gerhardt.
This is a Valentine’s Day post dedicated to the memory of my friend and co worker Ka’Sandra Wade, who was murdered on New Year’s Eve. She called 911 for help and the call was interrupted by “a commotion” according to the dispatcher. Neighbors report that gun shots were heard only after two police officers left her apartment, after they spoke to Anthony Brown and he reassured them that everything was okay. They did not speak to the woman who had called for help. Brown later wrote a note that claimed that the police could have saved her.
In light of the recent spate of newsand commentaryregarding the professional performance, ethical consistency and supervisory duties of our Chief of Police, Nathaniel Harper and the continued “confidence” of our Mayor in “his” chief, I present a hypothetical scenario sent to me from an anonymous commenter by email under cover of a pseudonym – this person directly echoed my own thoughts:
“Imagine if the police were in a rush to leave Ka’Sandra Wade’s place because they needed to get off-duty on schedule, without getting hung up — so they could get to their second job, working security at a SouthSide bar.”
No, as the commenter was careful to make clear, that suggestion was not a tip-off from a whistleblower within the Pittsburgh police force. It’s a rational extrapolation based on well documented, prevailing patterns of institutionally supported moonlighting. It’s a bitter guess based on the evident exploitationof the powers vested in our public police force to satisfy private profit motives. I’m willing to bet that email is only one example of many such darkly cynical speculations that express common erosions ofpublic confidence when bad examples are rewarded within power structures that have been entrusted with deadly force to “protect and serve.”