Public Safety

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Social justice advocates worry misinformation is preventing formerly incarcerated men and women from casting their ballot.

On Wednesday, for a second straight evening, demonstrators in Charlotte, N.C., protested the fatal shooting of a black man by police. Demonstrators threw objects at police and smashed car windows; officers in riot gear tried to disperse the protesters with tear gas and concussion grenades.

And there was a second shooting — city officials early on Thursday said one civilian shot another at the protests. At a press conference later in the day, Charlotte's police chief said that the department is investigating allegations that the man was shot by a police officer.

The police shooting of a man in Charlotte, N.C., sparked overnight protests and unrest. Protesters threw rocks at police, injuring 16 officers, while police wearing riot gear fired tear gas into the crowds. At one point, a major interstate was shut down as protesters set a fire and vandalized police cars.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Several Pittsburgh City Council members said the city’s police chief and director of public safety assured them during a private briefing Thursday that if a crime against a person is reported in the city, an officer will be available to file a report in person.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

City officials said Monday they’d lost track of who was responsible for testing three flash flood safety gates on Washington Boulevard that malfunctioned Sunday, resulting in the heavy rains submerging two cars. 

First responders used tow ropes to rescue a 54-year-old woman from one of the vehicles. Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said the woman told him she saw some kind of indication that she should not drive through the street but thought she could make it. It was unclear what indicator she saw. Three passengers were able to escape from a vehicle without assistance.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Body cameras have a way of rapidly de-escalating situations, according to Chief Jeff Besong, the head of Point Park University's Department of Public Safety.

One of his officers recently approached a family in the midst of an argument on the Boulevard of the Allies, and the adult man in the group began swearing at him. As soon as the officer informed the man he was being recorded on a body camera, the profanity ceased, Besong said.

Alex Loy / Twitter

  The city is increasing police patrols and bringing back an advisory council to try to prevent violence among rowdy teens, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Tuesday.

Police made more than a half dozen arrests after several groups of youths gathered Sunday night in Pittsburgh, the final day of the Three Rivers Regatta.

Witnesses said the teens stopped traffic, jumped on vehicles and knocked into bystanders.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians want Pittsburghers to know they do a lot more than ride around in an ambulance.

To show off what they do, local emergency responders displayed some of their equipment and services in Market Square Monday as a part of National EMS Week.

“A lot of times on major incidents ambulances come and go before there’s any attention,” said paramedic Crew Chief Jim Dlotowski. “A lot of paramedics live in the background, and even sometimes shy away from attention, but EMS week, that celebrates that career choice.”

Gene J. Puskar / AP

All taxpayers in Pennsylvania pay for the state police, and the state police serves all taxpayers. It just serves some taxpayers a bit more.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police, 1,287 of the 2,561 municipalities in Pennsylvania have no local police force. 

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.

State emergency management officials are urging motorists to stay off the roads in southwestern Pennsylvania, after a winter storm brought heavy snowfall to parts of the region. 

The governor's office reports emergency responders from are performing "multiple driver checks" on vehicles stranded on a stretch of I-76 near Somerset.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto officially introduced Acting Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich Tuesday morning, two weeks after announcing the hiring of the former Pittsburgh paramedic.

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.

City of Pittsburgh

Mayor Bill Peduto tapped Forest Hills native Wendell Hissrich to oversee Pittsburgh's public safety bureaus, officials announced Wednesday.

"It's a dream come true," Hissrich said.  "It brings together the police, fire and EMS that I've done for the last 30-some years, and it brings me back home."

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

This is the second in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2016 with members of Pittsburgh City Council.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has promised a culture change at the Bureau of Police, and Cameron McLay is the man he has tapped to lead that change. 

State's Top Cop Could Be Finalized Next Month

Nov 24, 2015
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.  

Gov. Tom Wolf is asking Pennsylvania residents to be vigilant and report suspicious activity following the Paris terror attacks but says "there remains no known imminent threat" to the commonwealth.

Wolf said the Office of Homeland Security has advised him that police in Philadelphia have stepped up security for the weekend. He said citizens may also experience increased security in other areas of the commonwealth.

The governor said Pennsylvania residents "should be vigilant, remain patient and be respectful" to law enforcement officers.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is consolidating squads this September in an effort to better address violent crime, Chief Cameron McLay announced Tuesday.

Homicide and robbery squads will combine to form one Violent Crime Unit responsible for investigating homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies and shootings. Commanders at each of the five zone stations also created a universal protocol to respond to community violence. Previously, each had their own best practices.

City of Pittsburgh

Pennsylvanians can take to the streets Tuesday advocating for crime prevention and getting to know their first responders as part of the 32nd annual National Night Out Against Crime.

Founder Matt Peskin said 356 neighborhoods and municipalities have registered statewide, including more than 50 in the Pittsburgh area alone.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Dozens of members of the Service Employees International Union packed Pittsburgh City Council chambers Wednesday morning for a preliminary vote on a bill that would mandate increased training for security guards in the city.

Two unrelated missing persons cases were solved when the bodies of the men each surfaced separately downstream in a river in West Virginia in recent days — with the death of one of the Pittsburgh men now being treated as a homicide, police said.

The cases of Andre Gray, 34, and Paul Kochu, 22, aren't related, except by the coincidence that their bodies each surfaced in the Ohio River in recent days, likely because of the spring thaw, city police Cmdr. RaShall Brackney said at a Thursday night news conference. Bodies can remain submerged for weeks or months when rivers are icy or the water is near freezing, but rise to the surface as temperatures warm.

Samm Hodges

The city of Pittsburgh’s Office of Municipal Investigations is looking into the use of force against an African American man wanted on two warrants after a police chase on Wednesday.

Devon Davis, 23, of the North Side was apprehended by police, who said he “sustained injuries to both legs as a result of the vehicle crash” after a car he was driving collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Wood St. and Ft. Pitt Blvd.

But at least one witness to the subsequent foot chase and arrest said Davis did not appear to be injured when he was running from police.

Five buildings burned as part of an early Friday apartment fire that spread to neighboring structures in the business district of a poorer suburb of Pittsburgh.

There were no immediate reports of injuries. Two residents rescued from a second-story window of the apartment building in Homestead were taken to a hospital for evaluation, but it wasn't clear if they were injured, said Alvin Henderson, chief of emergency services for Allegheny County.

After voting in favor of a 2015 budget amendment that would speed up the timeline for deployment of body-worn cameras for police officers, Councilman Dan Gilman on Wednesday held a post-agenda meeting on surveillance and privacy.

Pittsburgh has seen 60 homicides in 2014, and more than a third of them were in Police Zone 5, which encompasses Homewood, Larimer, Highland Park, Stanton Heights, Bloomfield, and Friendship.

Now, with the help of the state, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is set to pump nearly $100,000 into an ongoing investigation into gun and gang violence, specifically in Homewood and neighboring Wilkinsburg.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Mark Bocian has been Pittsburgh’s Acting Chief of  the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services for more than two years now, but City Council indicated in their Wednesday committee meeting that the wait for final confirmation is nearly over.

Bocian was met with resounding approval, as lawmaker after lawmaker extolled his virtues and thanked him for his service.

That service stretches back to 1975, when Bocian was hired as an Emergency Medical Technician, or EMT.

AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Halloween is supposed to be full of treats and colorful costumes and a few harmless scares, but health and safety advocates are warning about potential dangers for trick-or-treaters.

More than twice as many children are killed in pedestrian/vehicle accidents on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Dave Phillips, spokesman for State Farm Insurance, said government data shows that 115 children nationwide have died from being struck by a vehicle on Halloween from 1990-2010.

Another year, another Allegheny County budget proposal attempting to patch together funds for the Department of Emergency Services but the years of complaining by the County Executive might be about to bear fruit.

The 911 center operated last year at a loss of $6 million, according to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and though underfunding isn’t a new issue, he fears what lower than needed state funding could mean for the future.  Fitzgerald’s proposed $839.2 million budget for 2015 includes an increased cash match to plug the gap.

Discussing the Threat Posed by Aging Natural Gas Lines

Sep 25, 2014
Consumers Energy / Flickr

In the last 10 years, accidents involving gas distribution lines killed more than 120 people and injured more than 500. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Mike Wereschagin discusses his recent series on the complications, dangers and costs of managing gas lines that are, in some cases, 100 years old.