Pittsburgh Police

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The question of whether Pittsburgh police officers should be required to live in the city goes before arbitrators in September. 

But City Councilman Ricky Burgess believes that all voters in the city should have a say in the matter, not just the three members of the arbitration panel.

“I think that the arbitration, whatever the results are, will probably be appealed and come before a judge,” said Burgess, who is sponsoring legislation to put the issue on the November ballot.

While locally appointed arbitrators will make their final decision in September as to whether the requirement for Pittsburgh police to live in the city should be lifted, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl already has his answer: No.

Ravenstahl said he believes the city police should stay where they are.

“I think it’s important for them to be in the neighborhoods in which they patrol," Ravenstahl said. "The residents feel safer when they have a police officer living in their community. It seems to me that it’s working now, and there’s no need to change it.”

A day before a scheduled preliminary hearing, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala announced he's dropping charges against a Pittsburgh teacher who was arrested outside a meeting about police/community relations.

Dennis Henderson, a 38-year-old teacher at the Manchester Academy Charter School, was arrested June 26 in Homewood after leaving a Community Empowerment Association meeting.  

Pittsburgh City Council gave unanimous preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow the Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB) to review police regulations before they're implemented, rather than afterward.

The measure, sponsored by Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, will be put to a final vote on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh City Council This Week

May 13, 2013
90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA


Last week, Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to Councilman Ricky Burgess's bills to reform the police bureau's domestic violence response policies.  One bill pays for training under the "Maryland Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Program," and the second bill changes the city code to reflect the new policies. A final vote comes Tuesday.

When receiving a 911 call regarding domestic violence, responders must ask the callers a series of questions to determine the risk of imminent harm to the victim. Afterward, the officers must offer to call a women's shelter to help the victim.

Pittsburgh's bomb squad has been busy overnight responding to three reports of suspicious devices found along city streets that turned out to be loss-prevention devices, perhaps discarded as shoplifters drove away.

The first call came in just after 11 p.m. Thursday, and two more were reported Friday morning.

The plastic devices, which are equipped to beep and which hang from retail products by a small wire, were found wrapped in foil — which, at first, made them appear more suspicious.

Via Tsuji / Flickr

This Wednesday, Pittsburgh City Council votes on legislation written in reaction to the tragic death of Ka’Sandra Wade. Police responded to Ka'Sandra's 911 call on the night of December 31st, 2012. But they left her home when her boyfriend came to the window and told them that everything was alright. That night Ka'Sandra's boyfriend killed her and later killed himself. The legislation up for a vote this week would impact the way police respond to domestic violence calls.

Nigel Parry/Flickr

Although $7,000 may sound expensive for a German Shepherd puppy, it's not too bad of a price if you ask Pittsburgh Police Sergeant Chris Micknowski.

A bill making its way through Pittsburgh City Council would allow the Bureau of Police to build a software system for filing digital versions of daily activity reports.

Each officer currently writes his or her daily reports by hand, which costs time and makes research difficult, according to John Warren, executive assistant to acting Pittsburgh police chief Regina McDonald.

Pittsburgh police responded to a report that a box labeled "pressure cooker" with a Massachusetts return address was delivered to a city office building — only to find it really was a pressure cooker, ordered by an employee.

Police Lt. Shirley Sloan said the police response Wednesday was born out of an abundance of caution in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

"It was really tense there for a while," Sloan said.

The FBI has said Monday's blasts were caused by homemade bombs crafted using pressure cookers.

Pittsburgh police say an officer is in surgery after being shot in the shoulder while pursuing a suspect, who was also shot by police.

A police spokeswoman, Officer Diane Richard, says the officer is expected to recover.

Investigators say the shooting happened around 1:30 a.m. Thursday in the city's Homewood section when two officers on patrol when saw a car speed by.

City Council Update with Noah Brode

Apr 8, 2013
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  Happy Monday! 90.5 WESA reporter, Noah Brode gives us our weekly update on Pittsburgh City Council.  More in the ongoing discussions of police fees for secondary detail work, funding for new police vehicles, and healthcare eligibility for dependents of city employees have all been major topics of discussion.  Noah also gives us reaction to County Council's decision last week to allow only lawyers to represent citizens in property reassessment appeals cases.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved a $7.2 million bill to purchase new police vehicles and other additions to the city fleet, setting up the legislation for a final vote next week.

For the Bureau of Police, the list includes 31 new patrol cars, 12 new police motorcycles, nine unmarked cars and four K-9 vehicles.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has threatened to fire a police detective who allegedly placed a stun gun against the neck of a man who fell down before he was arrested for public drunkenness on Saturday.

Detective Frank Rende was working an off-duty security detail on the South Side during Saturday's St. Patrick's Day weekend festivities when the incident occurred.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said tests show the stun gun wasn't fired, which supports Rende's version of the incident as spelled out in a criminal complaint against 27-year-old Mark Keyser.

Pittsburgh City Council News with Noah

Mar 16, 2013
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  90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us a weekly look at Pittsburgh City Council. We talk about how council members hope to clean up police accounts and improve police staffing and promotions.

U.S. Attorney Announces Indictments of 'Uptown Crew'

Mar 14, 2013
Tim Camerato / 90.5 WESA

United States Attorney David Hickton announced the indictments of 34 people alleged to be part of Homestead’s “Uptown Crew” for violent offenses and the trafficking of heroin.

This morning, police arrested 29 of those charged in the criminal operation.

The investigation into the group was led by the FBI’s Safe Streets Taskforce beginning last year and implemented surveillance, control purchases, confidential tips and wiretapping to collect information on the gang.

Pittsburgh City Council postponed voting on two bills sponsored by Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris that would create a "Secondary Employment Trust Fund" as a depository for money earned by police from off-duty jobs as well as create a flat reimbursement for that work.  The reimbursement would be taken out of the trust fund account.  

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

On Monday, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl told reporters he’s decided to leave the hiring of a new police chief to whomever the next Mayor will be. We'll talk with Elizabeth Township Chief of Police, Robert McNeilly about his experience as Pittsburgh police chief from 1996 to 2006; the pressures of the position, potential for corruption and the attributes to look for in a new chief. And Darrel Stephens Executive Director of Major Cities Chiefs Association talks about his experience as a police chief and consultant to cities like Pittsburgh.

City Council News This Week

Mar 11, 2013


   90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us a look at this week's city council agenda which focuses on police bureau business. We'll talk about police administrative financing policies, minimum staffing requirements and new gunshot detection hardware.

Patrick Dowd: What's Next for the City?

Mar 8, 2013
Patrick Dowd / Facebook

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd discusses police force improvements council members would like to see and what Mayor Ravenstahl's decision not to run for reelection means for the city.

Although Pittsburgh City Council voted on Wednesday to fund a police education program at the Community College of Allegheny County, at least one Council Member raised questions about the necessity of a rule that requires all Pittsburgh police officers to have 60 college credits before joining the force - particularly for military members.


Last week Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced that he will not run for re-election. Councilman and mayoral candidate Bill Peduto joins us to talk about how he would like to build on Ravenstahl's legacy, what changes need to be made, and how to move the city forward.

Pittsburgh City Council will hold a post-agenda meeting and public hearing Wednesday, March 6 to discuss what qualities should be sought in the next Pittsburgh Chief of Police.

The hearing was arranged at the request of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) in conjunction with several supporting organizations to address relations between the community and the police, said Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of B-PEP. 

Selecting a New Chief of Police

Feb 25, 2013
Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

When the police chief of a major U.S. city steps down, what challenges are involved in the selection of a new leader? We'll discuss this issue with Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement service that provides education and technical assistance to police departments throughout the country.

City Council News with Noah Brode

Feb 25, 2013
90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA

90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us a look at how Pittsburgh city council is reacting to the resignation of police chief Nate Harper and attempting to push for police department transparency.

Last week, members of Pittsburgh city council proposed a bill that would allow the city to hire a consultant to advise on "examination and selection" policies for police officers.  Another bill would provide money to the Community College of Allegheny County for applicants to prepare for the examinations. Councilman Ricky Burgess has also introduced a measure that would require the bureau of police to publicize its operating procedures annually, to increase transparency.