Police

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Now that Mayor Bill Peduto and Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar have named Cameron McLay the city's new police chief we'll sample reaction from the community with Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of the Black Political Empowerment Project and take your calls. We'll also talk with University of Pittsburgh Law School Professor David Harris, who was on the Police Chief Screening Committee.

Heroin use has been on the rise across the U.S. since 2007, with more than 660,000 admitted users between 2011 and 2012, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In one week last January, 22 people in western Pennsylvania died of an overdose of heroin and fentanyl.

To combat deaths caused by heroin and other narcotic overdoses, the Pitcairn Police Department is partnering with Forbes Hospital to train and equip officers to administer opioid “antidote,” Narcan.

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Much of the nation’s attention has been focused on the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. The fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American man, by a police officer has led to riots, looting and tension between law enforcement officials and the citizens of Ferguson.

Pitt Law Professor David Harris evaluated the police department’s response to the incident.

“What you have here is not just the killing of one person by another, but the killing of a person by an agent of the state, a police officer."

Because of these stipulations and "the possibility that the police officer went beyond his duty to protect with reasonable force while depriving the person of their 'constitutional right to life without due process,'" Harris said there is a possibility of both state and federal court cases.

If the officer is charged, which Harris said is "a big if", the court case would still be a long process. Harris pointed out that a police officer has the right to use force to effectuate the job.

Forty-nine states in the nation permit their local police departments to use radar to monitor traffic speed, but Pennsylvania is not one of them.

State police are allowed to use the devices in the commonwealth, and a new bill could enable local departments to do so, too.

Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) said local police departments are stretched in terms of their resources and manpower and this could help.

Allegheny County could face losing one of its unique features, depending on the outcome of a hearing Tuesday about the Allegheny County crime lab.

Allegheny is the only county in Pennsylvania to fund and run its own crime lab. However, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the lab cannot continue with its current funding system.

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.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

After weeks of testimony, the civil court trial pitting Homewood resident, Jordan Miles against three Pittsburgh police officers concluded Monday with a wrongful arrest conviction.

90.5 WESA reporter Deanna Garcia describes the verdict as a mixed decision

Jessica Griffin

In 2008 a longtime informant with the Philadelphia Police Department narcotics squad walked into the offices of the Philadelphia Daily News.

He spoke with Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, resulting in a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative series uncovering corruption in the city's police department, and a full-scale FBI probe.

The events are chronicled in the book Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Future of Law Enforcement and Sentencing

Aug 13, 2013
Victor Caselle/Flickr

Opponents of the New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy have long accused the program of having a racial bias. On Monday, their accusations were validated, as U.S. Judge District Shira Scheindlin ruled that the city’s implementation of such searches violated both the 4th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution.

According to University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, this ruling does not mean that there will be an end to the city’s stop-and-frisk policy. Instead, the policy must be altered so that it can fall in line with pre-existing standards for civilian searches.

One state lawmaker is proposing to create a statewide pension plan for municipal police officers.
    
The plan would not include automatic boosts in benefits known as cost-of-living adjustments and would mandate a 7.5 percent contribution from members.

Republican state Rep. Glen Grell of Cumberland County, head of the House GOP pension reform task force, said the statewide pension plan would only be optional for current local officers.

About 1,500 black law enforcement officials are gathered in Pittsburgh this week for the 37th annual conference of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

The group formed in 1976 after black officers gathered for a three-day symposium focusing on crime rates in urban communities with larger black populations. Some of the issues present 34 years ago are still issues today.

Pittsburgh's Citizen Police Review Board

Jun 4, 2013

This year the city will get a new mayor who will appoint a new police chief. However, will the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board have a say in the selection of the new chief? City council recently passed a bill giving the board a chance to review proposed amendments to policies. 

Guest: Beth Pittinger, Executive Director of the Citizen Police Review Board