Jeffrey Benzing is a reporter for PublicSource focusing on criminal justice and public safety.
He previously covered foreign bribery and corporate crime at Main Justice in Washington, D.C.
Originally from Texas, he reported on local politics, public safety and business in the Texas Hill Country for the Fredericksburg Standard Radio-Post. His writing and photography earned him first-place honors from the West Texas Press Association.
As a journalism graduate student at the University of Maryland, he covered the state’s congressional delegation, examined juvenile justice in Baltimore and helped report and write an award-winning package on salmonella in poultry that appeared in The Washington Post.
In his down time, Jeff enjoys playing and listening to music (and finding old records), reading fiction and exploring the city.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Ed Gainey fears he’d be shot dead during a mass shooting if he were a gym teacher armed to protect a school. In that scenario, he imagines being seen by a police officer who doesn’t know him, who only sees an unknown black man with a gun, and wrongly pulls the trigger.
What’s holding Pittsburgh back? How are city officials addressing gentrification through redevelopment? And what would happen if Amazon were to actually choose Pittsburgh for its second headquarters? In a Facebook Live interview on Wednesday, filmmaker Chris Ivey gave his candid thoughts on these questions and why he’s worried that things aren’t getting better for residents, even as local leaders woo Amazon and paint Pittsburgh as a city of innovation.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert made the rounds to city council members last week to ease concerns over a proposed half-million dollar allocation to B-Three Solutions, a software contractor one of his officers raised concerns about in a recent whistleblower lawsuit. In multiple meetings, Schubert — as well as Grant Gittlen, the Community and Government Affairs officer for Mayor Bill Peduto — stressed the need to fund the vital public safety systems that officers rely on to file crime reports and capture data. While members of Peduto’s administration routinely meet with council members, these meetings come as serious concerns have been raised about B-Three’s work for the city. Council has been presented with a choice: Approve $572,640 to keep B-Three Solutions maintaining its products for two years or hobble the police bureau by blocking the funds to maintain software the city is ill-equipped to handle itself. “I feel like if we voted no, I don’t know the consequences and the full impact of those consequences to public safety,” said Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith after Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The Feb. 14 killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Fla., has reignited a visceral, decades-old debate over how to keep students safe when a gunman enters a campus to take lives.
The FBI today said it is not currently investigating the City of Pittsburgh’s relationship with B-Three Solutions.
PublicSource reported on Feb. 14 that former Chief of Police Cameron McLay referred concerns about the possibility of improper ties between city staff and the Plum-based contractor to the FBI in November 2015. When McLay resigned a year later, that investigation was active, McLay said in a statement.
Some members of city council struggle to recall B-Three Solutions or what the company has done for the city. B-Three has been commissioned to build the police bureau’s flagship data system and several related projects along with programs for the Department of Finance and the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections. The city has paid B-Three about $4.3 million since late 2009.
Updated 2/20/18: The FBI confirmed to PublicSource that it does not have an open investigation into the city's relationship with B-Three. A Pittsburgh police officer filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming he faced retaliation for raising alarms about potential “waste and wrongdoing” at the police bureau. Being vocal about alleged problems with police software projects put him in the crosshairs of one of the city’s most influential Public Safety officials. As a result, Souroth Chatterji, a native of India, became the subject of threats and racism within the bureau, according to a whistleblower lawsuit filed in federal court. Chatterji filed the lawsuit against Deputy Public Safety Director Linda Rosato-Barone and the City of Pittsburgh.
A Little Tikes basketball hoop sits in the corner of the porch on Rebecca Avenue in Wilkinsburg. A witch on a broomstick dangles from the home’s awning, marking the house for trick-or-treaters in advance of Halloween