Public Safety

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The number of Pittsburgh police officers is on track to reach its highest number in 15 years, city officials said just one day after installing new Chief Scott Schubert.

On Friday, a class of seven new Pittsburgh police officers were sworn in – all experienced and coming from other regional departments.

Mayor Bill Peduto said the city has made intentional efforts to attract outside talent.

Liz Reid / 90.5 FM WESA

This is the third in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2017 with members of Pittsburgh City Council. Find part one here and part two here.

Notorious 86-Year-Old Jewel Thief Strikes Again

Dec 16, 2016
John Bazemore / AP

 

An 86-year-old jewel thief who has kept jewelry sellers on their toes since the 1970s has struck again, police say - this time by slipping a $2,000 diamond necklace into her pocket.

Ephrata Police Department / Facebook

 

A Pennsylvania police department says a black cat was lucky for one of its officers tracking down a fugitive.

The Ephrata Police Department posted on its Facebook page that officers were searching for Jonathan Michael Steffy last month over an outstanding bench warrant.

Google Maps

 

Police are investigating allegedly Satanic graffiti spray-painted onto a central Pennsylvania church.

The vandalism included the digits "666" and upside-down crosses sprayed on the cupola above the roof of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County's Manheim Township, about 40 miles southeast of Harrisburg.

The graffiti was discovered Sunday afternoon.

Pastor Michael Rogers said the church has never experienced anything like this. It appeared to be the work of "somebody stupid with something to get out of their system," he said.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

 

Federal prosecutors say an inmate's killing of a guard at a federal prison in Pennsylvania was a calculated slaying that saw the suspect pause to chew a piece of gum he took from the dying man's pocket.

Federal prosecutors detailed the attack in court documents filed Monday, arguing that a jury should see surveillance video showing the 9-minute attack, and 22-minute aftermath in which guard Eric Williams lay dying before other guards arrived.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Police in the Pittsburgh suburbs say they're investigating a woman's claims that an Uber driver made unwanted sexual advances.

Ross Township police said the woman reported the incident about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

The woman says the driver started making advances while driving her to a restaurant. The driver allegedly stopped the vehicle, but the woman says she pushed him away and he continued the ride to the restaurant where she got out and called 911.

Police said the woman wasn't physically harmed.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

A man is injured and in custody after taking several hostages and stabbing six people at Turtle Creek Valley Mental Health in Homestead on Friday afternoon.

Allegheny County Supervisor Coleman McDonough said 38-year-old Dustin Johnson walked into the facility and held multiple people in a fifth-floor staff office. 

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. 

511PA.com

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.

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