Pittsburgh Police Force Goes ‘Part-Time’

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Starting this month, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is changing the way they fight crime.

Officers will no longer attend calls that aren’t classified as “in-progress emergencies” during certain hours. This policy shift means that incidents such as theft, harassment, criminal mischief, and burglary alarms will be addressed by a telephone reporting unit or online.

Councilman Anthony Coghill expressed concern regarding these changes. He stressed the public’s expectation of having police officers respond to situations like harassment.

“When it comes to harassment and things of this nature, you better have a police officer there. That’s what the public expects. That’s what I expect out of our city,” Coghill commented to Channel 11.

Chief Larry Scirotto of the Pittsburgh Police outlined the new approach to handling non-emergency calls from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. These calls will be rerouted to the telephone reporting unit, which will be operational from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

During the early morning hours, calls will accumulate for processing at 7 a.m., with 25 to 63 officers covering the city.

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Moreover, Chief Scirotto has introduced changes to officer work schedules. They will shift to ten-hour workdays, four days a week, with an hour dedicated to mental health. This adjustment aims to enhance officer “well-being” and “efficiency.”

Amid these staffing and operational changes, the department has launched a new Violent Crime Initiative with 17 officers. Despite being budgeted for 850 officers, the department currently functions with around 740. Though, it plans on welcoming about 40 new officers to its ranks in the near future.

This staffing strategy, however, has not been without criticism. District Attorney Steve Zappala expressed concerns over the perceived part-time nature of the police force, questioning the impact on public safety.

“Is there any other large city in the country that’s a part-time police department? I mean, does that make any sense to any of you guys? It doesn’t to me,” Zappala told WTAE in an interview. “I don’t understand what he’s doing. I have to sit down with the chief about that, and just some of the things in the policing areas. I don’t get it.”

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“To tell people that you’re not going to be protected at certain hours of the day, that didn’t make any sense to me when I heard it,” he continued. “I don’t know what the rationale for that was, and I think that’s something the chief has to explain.”

Mayor Ed Gainey, addressing these concerns, clarified that the city remains adequately protected. He suggested that Zappala and other critics should discuss such strategies directly with those implementing them.

Pittsburgh’s “part-time” policing approach poses a fundamental question to its residents: How much do you trust the government and its “telephone reporting unit” to protect you and your family?

For some, confidence in government protection remains unchanged despite the new protocols. However, for many others, this could be a wake-up call, highlighting a crucial reality – in matters of personal safety, you are your own first line of defense.

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  • John Himes March 16, 2024, 5:49 am

    I can see know that the areas of the city that this will impact the most are the areas that need boots on the ground the most. A harassment call can turn into an assault in a heartbeat. Then you have a bloody victim on your hands in need of immediate medical attention or the coroner. So many people in these neighborhoods already distrust the government; this sort of action proves that the government is not their friend. The cities that defunded the police are coming to the reality that actions have consequences, now who would have thought of that?

  • Ger March 15, 2024, 11:10 am

    Clearly, the chief is trying to send a message. The ‘defund the police’ movement was a stupid, stupid thing to do. Not a single good thing has come from it. The fools that stood by and allowed it to happen bear some responsibility, too. At least this chief is doing something to hold the politicians responsible for their ignorance.

  • Eric March 15, 2024, 7:44 am

    Sounds like they’ll still be responding to priority calls, and just letting the non-priority calls stack at night, due to staffing. People might not know how many calls for police assistance are about chippy BS, but it’s a high percentage. If people need to wait till morning to talk about their ongoing civil dispute with their neighbor about the location of a fence, I think it’ll probably be just fine.

  • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment March 14, 2024, 7:14 am

    send in the clowns…….errrrr social workers

  • Lillian March 13, 2024, 12:25 pm

    So, someone witnessing persons harassing, beating, robbing, etc and who then tries to call for police will get told to “leave a message and someone will get back to you” ??? Excellent way to completely discourage people from entering the city for legitimate purposes, i.e entertainment, dinners, sight-seeing holiday lights, etc. How short-sighted can you people get!!?? Pittsburgh will turn into a deserted wasteland, with no-one except the criminals on the streets. Way to go, Pittsburgh!!

    • jim c March 15, 2024, 11:54 am

      You did not get all of the story clearly. Second paragraph clarifies they WILL be responding to calls reporting “in action” crime, like beatings, robberies, etc., if it is a crime occurring at the time of the call. They will not respond during those hours to crimes that are not currently being committed. So, you come home at 4 a.m. to find your house has been broken into, but the thieves have left, your call will be transferred to a service that relays the activity to the police. The police will not respond until after 7 a.m.

      The DA went off the deep end, summing it up incorrectly, and making it worse.

  • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment March 13, 2024, 10:12 am

    heh…….heh……heh

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