Pittsburgh Police

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh public safety and emergency response departments are working together to create a new strategy for dealing with large events and natural disasters.

The changes were proposed after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s April rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, during which three people were arrested and four police officers treated for minor injuries.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday to a $125,000 settlement in the Jordan Miles case, potentially ending a six-year legal battle between the city and the young black man who accused three white city police officers of attacking him in 2010.

There’s been no public discussion of the deal reached between Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, and the city Law Department; City Council held a closed-door executive session on the matter before unanimously approving the deal in a committee vote last Wednesday.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh man's lawyer says his client has accepted a $125,000 settlement more than six years after the man — who is black — says three white police officers wrongfully arrested him and then beat him.

Attorney Joel Sansone says his 24-year-old client, Jordan Miles, decided to end the litigation and put the events behind him. Miles wasn't immediately available to comment.

City council plans to take up legislation on the proposed settlement on Tuesday. A spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto says the deal was reached during federal mediation.

Shane Simmons / flickr

A mistrial has been declared in a civil rights lawsuit brought by a Pittsburgh police officer who clerked for the former chief. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti granted the mistrial after Officer Tonya Montgomery-Ford said her attorney was too ill to continue. Montgomery-Ford says she was suspended three years ago because she testified before a federal grand jury into alleged corruption by the administration of former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. We'll discuss the case with Trib reporter Brian Bowling.

A fired Pittsburgh police sergeant accused of wrongly pushing and punching a drunken man at Heinz Field and then lying about it says he's fighting the criminal case against him.

Ex-sergeant Stephen Matakovich has been indicted by a federal grand jury. He's appealing his firing.

Defense attorney Blaine Jones said Wednesday they're prepared to fight the case wherever they need to fight it.

The police chief and the public safety director agreed to fire the 22-year veteran for using what was deemed to be "unreasonable" force during the arrest in November.

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay can't be with all of his officers, all the time. While they're driving their beat, responding to calls and policing the city, they're on their own. Negative reports, either by the officers or about the officers, are often he-said, she-said cases.

But that could be changing. Pittsburgh is one of five cities in Pennsylvania that received federal Department of Justice funding to outfit their officers with body cameras. The small cameras, worn on the officer's uniform, record interactions between police officers and the community.

Ian Ransley / flickr

While they may not be investigating high-profile crimes like homicide or robbery, Pittsburgh’s anti-graffiti squad provides a valuable resource to the city. Revived in Nov. 2015, the squad recently arrested one of Pittsburgh’s major taggers. To get the scoop on what led up to the arrest, Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with graffiti squad detectives Alphonso Sloan and Braden Seese.

Dickelbers / Wikipedia

 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is celebrating a ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which overturned an arbitrator’s decision to allow Pittsburgh police officers to live outside the city.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following a call to prayer at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Saturday, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police outlined a five-point plan to help protect the city’s Muslim community.

“With increasing Islamophobia in America, it is very important that community leaders and local authorities both collaborate to be as proactive as possible in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the Muslim Community,” said Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

If you're headed out for a night on the South Side, you could find yourself having to pay for parking past 6 p.m.

City officials are planning on eventually enforcing parking meters through midnight.

They haven't said when the change would take effect, but hope to start enforcing it in the coming months. 

This comes as part of the new initiative developed by Mayor Bill Peduto, City Council President Bruce Kraus and Nighttime Economy Coordinator Allison Harden to ensure a safer business district on East Carson Street in the South Side.

Kaffeeeinstein / Flickr

Nearly a year after President Barack Obama proposed funding for 50,000 body-worn cameras for police officers nationwide, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is getting its share.

Black Women for Positive Change

Pittsburgh community leaders, educators, pastors and police officers met with students to discuss violence and how it affects growing children at the Community College of Allegheny County's North Side campus on Thursday. 

The gathering occurred just days after two teens and a third man were arrested in the September homicide of a Carrick High School freshman.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

High school senior Logan Tewell said he needs to start working out.

The Bedford County 17 year old said he's interested in a career with the Pennsylvania State Police, so Trooper Brian Arrington told him the usual stuff. Keep your grades up, stay out of trouble and keep on the right path. 

screenshot from CPRB hearing video

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh and an officer with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police alleging intimidation and harassment of three black residents in September 2013.

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

  A day after community leaders called for an end to the violence in the city, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Police Chief Cameron McLay said Wednesday there are fewer homicides this year despite an uptick in area shootings.

“It’s not an epidemic of violence outside the norm of this city,” McLay said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  Video cameras are filming the 2600 block of Brownsville Road in Carrick as part of a new wave of neighborhood watchmen.

Two years in the making, Councilwoman Natialia Rudiak announced Friday the start of a “Virtual Block Watch” in Carrick's business district. Fifteen business owners invested a combined $2,850 to purchase and install cameras outside of their locations directed at public thoroughfares, while Rudiak’s office provided $1,080 for signage.

Via Tsuji / Flickr

In a continuing effort to improve police and community relations, the Zone 5 station will open its doors to the community for an open house – open to everyone in Zone 5 and beyond.

“Citizens, officers, their families, lawmakers, anyone who wants to come,” Zone 5 Commander Jason Lando said. “We just want to give the community a chance to come down, meet our officers, see our station, see our equipment and help bring the community and the police closer together.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh officials vowed to remedy a long-standing lack of diversity on its police force with the resolution of a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination in hiring practices.

In a tentative agreement announced Thursday, the city agreed to pay $985,000 plus court costs to eligible black police academy applicants who were not issued job offers between 2008 and 2014.

Flickr user kaffeeeinstein

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay has said the city’s officers must “be willing to change” in order to improve morale, increase community trust and be more responsive to meet the needs of citizens.

As part of that effort, officers will attend a behavioral science-based leadership training program from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Flickr user Robert Bratton

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar is advocating that police officers in Zone 5, which includes the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, be trained in animal behavior so they can properly respond to incidents involving dangerous animals.

The proposed agreement would also include training for zoo employees on the use of live firearms and tranquilizer guns.

Essential Pittsburgh: An Hour with Mayor Bill Peduto

Mar 18, 2015
BillPeduto.com

Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto makes his monthly appearance on the program. He discusses Pittsburgh's participation in a new Justice Department program to improve the relationship between police officers and city residents and his meeting with President Obama during his visit to Washington for the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. The mayor also addresses the topics of body cameras for the Pittsburgh Police force, pothole season and the city's Summer Internship Program.

"Let's be real fair and open about this: incidents are going to occur. Police are dealing with violent people, they're dealing with dysfunction, and they're dealing with situations that don't follow rules. And in those cases there are always going to be times when force is necessary. But how it is used and making sure that it doesn't exceed the escalation is something that we work now to train our officers on." - Mayor Bill Peduto

The mayor speaks at length about the changes to community policing that his administration is instituting.

"When Chief McLay came in, he asked his commanders, 'Send me a list of people that you call when an incident occurs.' And there was no list. So over the course of the first month we started to put together a list of community leaders.'

He answers caller questions about instituting a version of a stop and frisk program (24:05), the city's plans for helping to provide jobs for children in inner city neighborhoods (33:50), plans to revitalize Pittsburgh neighborhoods like Arlington (43:20), and food truck legislation (46:50).

On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Pittsburgh is one of six cities designated as a pilot site for a national initiative to strengthen and improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community.

It's called the National Initiative for Building Community, and it’s a partnership between the Department of Justice and legal experts from institutions such as the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Yale Law School.

AP Photo/Pittsburgh Police Department via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A man whose fatal stabbing of a K-9 prompted Pennsylvania lawmakers to stiffen the penalty for harming police animals has been sentenced to up to 44 years in prison.

A judge on Tuesday decided John Lewis Rush should serve a minimum of 17 years, nine months in prison and said he must also serve eight years of probation after being released.

The 22-year-old Stowe Township resident was convicted in December of torturing a police animal, aggravated assault on the dog's handler and three other officers, and other offenses.

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing in Pittsburgh Wednesday, where city and county officials called for amendments to state laws that limit the use of body-worn cameras by police officers.

According to Cole McDonough, chief of the Mt. Lebanon Police Dept., the state Wiretap Act requires officers to turn-off or remove their body cameras before entering a private residence without a warrant. McDonough said this creates safety and liability issues.

A slew of city officials on Tuesday announced a new initiative that they hope will increase public safety and improve community-police relations.

Safer Together, the brainchild of Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess, has five similar goals to build relationships of respect, cooperation and trust within and between the Department of Public Safety and the community. It also aims improve education, oversight, monitoring, diversity, accountability and hiring practices for the department.

It took less than one minute for officers from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to arrive on the scene after shots reportedly were fired off the porch of 7502 Hamilton Ave. in Homewood Saturday night.

“(ShotSpotter) was so accurate and so quick that the officers were able to engage the suspects and see them as they were firing the weapons and observe the muzzle flash that was a result of them firing the weapons,” said Major Crimes Cmdr. RaShall Brackney.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Citywide, there were 71 homicides in Pittsburgh in 2014, well above the 10-year average of 55. The last time the number was in the 70s was 2008, when there were 74 homicides.

“This is a public health emergency,” said Chief of Pittsburgh Police Cameron McLay. “It’s having a disparate impact on our underprivileged and our communities of color.”

Twenty-six of the 2014 homicide cases have been cleared by arrest. There are 28 active investigations, eight cases with strong suspects and six pending grand jury or district attorney review.

Pittsburgh's new police chief is being praised by the mayor but criticized by a police union president for being photographed on New Year's Eve holding a sign that says: "I resolve to challenge racism @ work."

The sign also has a Twitter hash tag that says "# end white silence." Chief Cameron McLay was photographed holding up the sign that someone had brought to the city's annual First Night celebration.

Mayor Bill Peduto said he saw the picture on social media and liked it so much he re-posted it on his own Facebook page.

A Former Officer's Perspective on Appropriate Use of Force

Dec 18, 2014
macwagen / flickr

For as long as there has been law enforcement, there have been arguments over how much force police reserve the right to use.

These arguments have come to dominate the national conversation in the wake of the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. This conversation has spread to Pittsburgh, in the form of regular protest demonstrations focused on local issues.

Sheldon Williams is a former Pittsburgh Police Officer and a member of the Citizen Police Review Board who answered some of the  lingering questions about the use of deadly force by police.

Williams said that he was somewhat skeptical about Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s testimony.

Are Local Prosecutors to Blame for Failure to Prosecute Police?

Dec 17, 2014
David Harris

The public outcry over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, at the hands of white police officers continues to spark protests around the country. 

One of the many legal aspects being called into question in these instances is the role of local prosecutors taking the cases to grand juries. Pitt Law Professor David Harris examines the part that local prosecutors have played in these cases.

Harris says that local prosecutors often have ties to police departments, thus producing a possible conflict of interest. Although sometimes local prosecutors do indeed prosecute police, Harris acknowledges that concerns about impartiality are justifiable.

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