PublicSource reviewed the cases because federal court is typically the referee of last resort in disputes between citizens and police. Officials sometimes portray the court as a backstop against other systems’ shortcomings. Scholars of law enforcement, though, view federal court as an uneven playing field on which results have little to do with the severity of a constitutional violation or the injuries caused.
Pittsburgh City Council voted Tuesday to regulate the use of facial recognition and predictive policing technologies by city entities, including the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police [PBP]. The legislation requires city council approval of such technologies before they are acquired or used, except in “an emergency situation.”
As incidents both local and national continue to raise questions about policing and mental health, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services [DHS] has quietly convened a panel that appears to be reviewing the public safety and social services response to behavioral health crises. The 28-member Allegheny County Crisis Response Stakeholder Group held its first full meeting, virtually, on Friday. The meeting included remarks by DHS staff including Director Marc Cherna, plus county Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, and representatives of The Pittsburgh Foundation* and the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Its formation does not appear to have been heralded by any public announcement. It comes as the city sees near-daily protests demanding changes in policing, sometimes including calls to “defund” police, which some describe as the shift of law enforcement resources to human services or community building.
More than six and a half years into his administration, and expecting to face challengers from both sides of the political spectrum in his 2021 bid for reelection, Mayor Bill Peduto is frank about the gap between his policing platform and the bureau’s actions.
Banning chokeholds, prohibiting the acquisition of military equipment and implementing a hiring freeze are some of the recent steps Pittsburgh city council has taken to reform the city’s police. But do council members think they’re enough? And what more can they do?
Though diversion may address the harms of over-policing on Black and Brown communities and individuals with behavioral health needs, advocates and community members note that the success of these programs depends on implementation and buy-in from police and other stakeholders.
viral video showing the arrest of a protester by plainclothes police in an unmarked van in Pittsburgh on Saturday has incited outcry from activists, civil rights attorneys, elected officials and residents.