The Kennedy Township Republican Committee held a 'Back the Blue' rally at the fire hall on Aug. 20.
By Alex Topor
A crowd of about 50 people gathered at the invite-only “Back the Blue” rally held at the Kennedy Township fire hall Aug. 20.
The Kennedy Township Republican Committee-hosted event featured four speakers who detailed why it is important to support law enforcement officers, especially in this political climate.
Police review boards were also touched upon by each speaker. Attendees signed waivers and submitted to a body temperature check before entering the hall.
First to speak was Diane Schmitt, a member of the Kennedy Township Republican Committee. Schmitt spoke at length about police review boards and the negative impacts they would have. She specifically mentioned these boards would likely have far-left leaning political activists on them that wouldn’t have the best interest of local communities in mind.
Schmitt also said the cost of county-wide police review boards would be paid for by taxpayers and everyone should contact their local representatives to voice their displeasure with the idea.
The next speaker was a former city of Pittsburgh police officer — Tony Moreno, who plans to run as a Democratic candidate for mayor in the 2021 primary election.
Moreno also touched on police review boards. He cited stats for the city’s citizen-led review board, stating that in 2017 and 2018 there were a total of zero hearings despite hundreds of formal complaints mostly about how officers talked to civilians.
“The board has spent $1.3 million on zero public hearings in two years,” Moreno said.
“Also, why do they only meet eight times a year when we pay them full-time salaries?”
Beyond questioning the validity of police review boards, Moreno also said law enforcement is not a political tool.
“We are law enforcement officers. The community elects people to create laws and we are hired to enforce the laws,” Moreno said. “We are not a political tool for anyone.”
Sean Parnell, also spoke at the event. Parnell is running against Democrat Conor Lamb for U.S. Congress in PA’s 17th Congressional District.
Parnell spoke about the day he decided to join the military – 9/11.
“What affected me the most was how ordinary Americans reacted to 9/11. It was how police officers and firefighters ran into the flames to save people they didn’t even know instead of running away from flames,” Parnell said.
“I thought ‘if ordinary citizens are giving everything to people they don't know, how can I not join up?’ Now Democratic leaders want to defund those heroes, well not on my watch.”
The final speaker was Danny DeVito, Republican candidate for state representative in the 45th district. He is running against incumbent Anita Kulik, a Democrat. DeVito said it is important to support police officers because of everything they do to protect citizens on a daily basis.
“I truly believe our cops protect us from major crimes like murder and rape but also minor things and we rely on them every single day,” DeVito said. “We need a representative in the state house who will back the blue and fight to uphold law and order, not just when it’s convenient, but at all times.”
DeVito also touched on several bills currently in the state House and Senate. House Bill 2691 would give counties the option to create a police review board to investigate complaints against officers and suggest any disciplinary action. Senate Bill 1208 is a companion bill, which would give police review boards subpoena power to conduct investigations.
“There are some bad laws out there and we need leaders to hold the line,” DeVito said.
“We need someone to fight. These laws will take away the rights of local governments and take away our right to govern ourselves.”
Following the four speakers, a 50/50 raffle was drawn with proceeds to benefit first responders.