Northside officer, commander served all communities through selflessness

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By Sabrina Romano

When a man had a heart attack and collapsed outside the Consol Energy Center during a Penguins game, Officer Forrest Hodges acted quickly and performed CPR on the man, saving the man’s life.

When a cigar shop on Suismon St. spiraled into a gentleman’s club with parties until dawn, illegal alcohol distribution, and possible prostitution, Commander RaShall Brackney responded and had a large role in closing the joint.

It is this commitment to the community and tenacity in solving crimes, that David Stacy, the president of the Zone 1 Public Safety Council, appreciated before Hodges’ retirement in Oct. 2014 and Brackney’s reassignment to Major Crimes at Pittsburgh headquarters in Jan. 2015.

Although their careers in the Northside were different, they both felt an allegiance to the community.

After his 14 year service in the United States Navy, Hodges came back to serve the Northside community where he was born and raised. He policed Zone One for the past 20 years and was most recently the community relations officer.

“I think (living in the area) gave me a better understanding of (the community members’) issues and concerns,” Hodges said. “I’ve seen the things they were talking about because I live in the Northside.”

Unlike Hodges, Brackney, a commander since 2000, wasn’t so eager to work in the Northside.

“I was hesitant about (working in the Northside) because I was very comfortable in the East End,” Brackney said. “There was a lot of work to do there.”

But shortly after assuming her position in 2008, she was more than happy to work in the neighborhood.

“The Northside just drew me back in and I fell right in love,” Brackney said of the area. “I loved how passionate the residents are and how they are moving the community forward.”

During their time in the California-Kirkbride station, Hodges and Brackney worked together daily.

“Our offices were right beside each other,” Brackney said of their work environment. “I had a genuine partnership with Officer Hodges.”

Brackney said Hodges strengths were his “empathy, patience, (and his) quick ability to discern what a problem was and how to fix it.”

Over his long career in Zone One, Officer Hodges had a large role in solving many crimes and keeping the neighborhood safe.

One of such crimes occurred in a home on Constance St. In the residence, there were drug deals and drug overdoses among other disruptive behaviors involving minors, Brackney said.

After roughly two years, “It is the first and only property to be demolished in the city of Pittsburgh,” Brackney said.

“He was the person who was right there on the door front doing all the leg work making sure every ‘T’ was crossed and every ‘I’ was dotted,” Brackney said.

Hodges is most appreciative of the support he got from his fellow officers, but especially Brackney.

“She was in charge of the entire neighborhood,” Hodges said. “If I made any decisions at all, she supported everything that I did.”

Besides being supportive, Brackney’s strengths were “her leadership (skills), thinking outside the box, and (creating) innovative ideas and programs,” Hodges said.

For Brackney, thinking outside the box meant using an app to help fight crime and raise awareness.

Brackney help impliment the Nextdoor mobile app. in the Northside as a way to get the community involved in the public safety discussion and crime prevention.

“It was successful with a string of burglaries,” Brackney said.

Stacy said he admires her humbleness about her intellect.

“She is honestly one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and I’m 48 years old. She’s somewhat of a genius,” Stacy said. “She doesn’t act like it. You wouldn’t know if you didn’t work with her.”

When asked what he was going to miss about working with Hodges and Brackney, Stacy paused and simply replied, “everything.”

“Saying that (Commadner Brackney) and Officer Hodges did a good job would be a real understatement,” Stacy said.

 

 

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