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Pittsburgh police officers will only respond to 'in progress' emergency calls amid staffing shortage
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Chief Larry Scirotto (Image Source: WPXI-TV video screenshot)

Pittsburgh police officers will only respond to 'in progress' emergency calls amid staffing shortage

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police will no longer send officers to respond to some 911 calls, WPXI-TV reported Friday.

The news outlet stated that Pittsburgh officers will not respond to calls involving criminal mischief, theft, harassment, and burglary alarms. Instead, those calls and other similar emergencies will be handled by the Telephone Reporting Unit or online reporting.

According to a recent press release from the department, "Dispatch will assign reports to the TRU for calls that do not require an in-person response by officers."

It noted that "TRU will NOT be assigned to any 'In Progress' call where a suspect may be on scene, any crime where a person may need medical aid, any domestic dispute, calls with evidence, or where the Mobile Crime Unit will be requested to process a scene."

Chief Larry Scirotto stated that the department receives approximately 200,000 calls yearly but hopes the changes will bring the total down to roughly 50,000.

Currently, the department's top complaint usually involves parking violations. Scirotto said that he is developing a plan to allow the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to handle all parking complaints in the future to free up officers.

"That allows our officers to be engaged in community in a way, now they're at the YMCA instead of sitting on the 10th Street bypass with a bike complaint," he told WPXI.

Beginning Monday, officers transitioned from a five-day, eight-hour work week to a four-day, 10-hour week with three consecutive days off. The department stated that the schedule change will "enhance officer wellness." Additionally, officers will be allowed one hour per week of "wellness time" to "use at their discretion."

"An additional day away from work each week to focus on family, friends, or outside pursuits is key to creating a healthy workforce and contributes to the Bureau's goal of not only recruiting new officers, but retaining them for the long haul," Scirotto said.

The department also announced that there will not be a desk officer at any of the department's six police zones from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. Instead, they will install "blue phones with a direct line to 9-1-1."

Scirotto claimed, "There is not any data to supports us having our zones manned by personnel from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. For the very one off instance I can't make an exception."

The department's changes also mean that on some overnights, it will only have 22 officers on duty, which Scirotto stated is "enough to cover the entire city at those hours."

"Following thorough audits of how police resources were being allocated, these improvements are backed by data to ensure that the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is serving the city in the most efficient and responsible manner, placing the primary focus on areas of concern to enhance quality of life in our neighborhoods, improve community/police partnerships, and prioritize officer wellness. These are my key priorities for the Bureau, which will only serve to strengthen public safety in the city," Scirotto stated.

Bob Swartzwelder, the president of Pittsburgh's Fraternal Order of Police, explained the department's new strategy was "a direct response to a seriously understaffed police department."

"Only time will tell if the plan works or the Chief will need to pivot and modify his plan quickly. The FOP will be watching carefully for any contract violations that develop especially when non-emergency events come up such as St. Patrick's Day, parades, large concerts, July 4th etc. In short, the FOP believes that the police department is seriously over-committed and under-resourced," Swartzwelder added.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →