District Attorney

Prosecutors must approve felony arrest warrants issued by Pittsburgh police because of concerns expressed by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala over the bureau’s eyewitness identification procedures.

In a letter to city officials, Zappala wrote that Pittsburgh police must adopt eyewitness identification procedures outlined by the Allegheny County Chiefs of Police Association by August 16. If not, eyewitnesses might be used to establish a suspect, but the information provided could not be used to charge an individual.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

When veterans face criminal charges in Allegheny County, many of them are not represented by experienced lawyers.  Instead, they are often defended by law students.

“It’s critical to help these individuals on so many different levels,” said Allison Gordon, Duquesne University law student and clinic manager. “We have them socially engaged, we have their medical engagement through VA resources and then for us to be able to help them with their legal issues, it helps bring them back into the community and be active members.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

District attorneys from across the state gathered at a Pittsburgh rehabilitation center Thursday, pushing for Senate passage of a bill they said would combat the growing heroin epidemic. That epidemic, they said, is tied directly to an increase in the abuse of prescription drugs.

The Allegheny County District Attorney called for an increase in the use of video cameras in law enforcement Monday.

Stephen Zappala said cameras add an extra level of objectivity to the police force.

Zappala said video cameras in police vehicles reduced legal complaints against police officers across the county by 90 percent.

“Every time that somebody sues a municipality on a one-on-one stop,” he said, “it costs us money as taxpayers. We refer to it legally as contingent liabilities … When you introduce objective evidence, that changes substantially.”

If police in the Whitaker Borough want a search warrant, they’ll need the approval of the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.

This decision comes in response to the 2012 arrest of Whitaker Borough police officer William Davis, who was charged in April with two counts of false swearing, unsworn falsification to authorities and official oppression, and one count of perjury for using a warrant to get access to a private residence.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the department will be under a microscope.