Police

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Eight former police officers will be patrolling school hallways instead of streets this fall.

By a 7-2 vote Tuesday, the Gateway School District Board of Education approved the placement of at least one armed officer in each of the district’s elementary, middle and high schools.

Board president Chad Stubenbort said the district will hire retired officers to work part-time as part of its $300,000 security budget. Recent school attacks, especially the 2014 mass stabbing in nearby Franklin Regional High School, proved violence can happen anywhere, he said.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Since 1961, the Pennsylvania State Police have been able to use radar to hand out speeding tickets, but municipal police in the state have been denied the same authority. 

“We trust them with a gun, we trust them with a Taser, we should be able to trust them with a radar gun,” Whitehall Borough Mayor Jim Nowalk said.

Nowalk was among a small, but vocal group that gathered Tuesday in Harrisburg to call on lawmakers to lift the ban. 

Guy Wathen / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Reporters rushed to the scene of the shooting in Wilkinsburg in the early hours Thursday to document the shooting deaths and injuries of nine people.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Updated 3:37 p.m.  

When Carl Morris orders pizza, delivery drivers ask which side of Ardmore Boulevard he lives on. He tells them it's the east side of Franklin Avenue -- the "good half of Wilkinsburg."

Morris and family huddled in their home late Wednesday night when at least two shooters opened fire on a backyard party across the street at 1304 Franklin Ave. The pair killed six people and injured three in the borough just east of Pittsburgh.

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.

Josh James / WUKY

 

A few weeks ago, we published a story about  Pennsylvania cities trying to recruit bilingual police officers. 

Although the Latino population is growing quickly in many cities, making up 40 to 60 percent of the population in some cases, police departments trying to hire Spanish-speaking officers are facing challenges. 

Summit Against Racism

The first Saturday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day marks the 18th annual Summit Against Racism, a day-long conference that promotes dialogue on race and ethnicity, as well as gender and sexuality.

Event organizers are expecting more than 400 guests, the best attendance in the event’s history.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The acting commissioner for the State Police is poised for a full state Senate vote after receiving unanimous approval from a key committee on Tuesday.  

Colonel Tyree Blocker is returning to the agency 10 years after he retired. 

Daveynin / Flickr

The state House has passed a measure supporters say would provide more protection to police officers who use their gun or any act of force while on the job.  

Tony Webster / Flickr

A state representative wants would keep the names of law enforcement officers who fire their service weapons private until the conclusion of a formal investigation.

In a memo sent July 1, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced that the names of law enforcement officers involved in police-shootings will be released within 72 hours of the incident. The change is one of the Department of Justice’s recommendations.

Demonstrators gathered outside the City-County Building Thursday morning to protest police misconduct and petition for changes to the current contract between the City of Pittsburgh and its police force, while representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police presented contract negotiation arguments before an arbitration committee inside.

Courtesy image

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