Pittsburgh Police Will No Longer Respond If Not In-Progress Emergency, Disaster Looms

The city of Pittsburgh faces a public safety crisis as recent police department policy changes leave citizens vulnerable.

In a stunning move, Pittsburgh police will no longer respond in person to calls deemed non-emergencies, including crimes like theft, harassment, criminal mischief, and burglary alarms.

This decision, driven by severe staffing shortages, raises serious concerns among residents and law enforcement experts.

Under the new policy, calls that do not meet the criteria for an “in-progress emergency” will be relegated to a telephone recording unit, operating daily from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

This means that crimes such as theft, harassment, criminal mischief, and burglary alarms will no longer warrant an in-person response from officers. The implications of this change are deeply troubling, as it essentially leaves victims of these crimes without immediate support or recourse.

Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that between the hours of 3 a.m. and 7 a.m., when the city is at its most vulnerable, no desk officers will be present at any of the six police stations in Pittsburgh.

Instead, call boxes linked to 911 have been installed as a makeshift solution. During these overnight shifts, a mere 22 officers may be tasked with covering the entire city – a woefully inadequate number given the size and complexity of Pittsburgh’s urban landscape.

Police Chief Larry Scirotto has attempted to justify these changes, citing the fact that only 8% of 911 calls occur during the overnight hours. “I’m confident in the decisions that we make, that it impacts this bureau and this city in much better way than we have in the past,” Scirotto stated.

However, this confidence rings hollow in the face of the glaring risks posed by understaffing and the lack of immediate police response to certain crimes.

The root of the problem lies in the city’s inability to maintain a fully staffed police force. Pittsburgh’s police department has plummeted to just 740 officers, down from 835 at the start of 2023.

A full staff is considered to be 900 officers, highlighting the severity of the shortfall. Scirotto’s attempts to redistribute manpower based on call volume data may prove to be a dangerous gamble, as Bob Swartzwelder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police #1, warns: “They’re running out of manpower very, very quickly, and they’re getting very taxed… It may pan out to be correct. It may be disastrous.”

The city of Pittsburgh must take immediate and decisive action to address this crisis.

Attracting and retaining qualified police officers should be the top priority, as the current situation puts the lives and safety of Pittsburgh’s citizens at grave risk.

The lack of adequate policing is simply unacceptable in a modern, thriving city. It is the responsibility of the city’s leadership to provide the resources and support necessary to rebuild the police force and restore public confidence in law enforcement.

Failure to act swiftly and effectively will have dire consequences for the people of Pittsburgh.

A city that cannot ensure the safety of its residents is a city in crisis, and the current state of policing in Pittsburgh is nothing short of a crisis.

The time for half-measures and hopeful prayers has passed; it is now imperative that the city takes bold, decisive steps to rectify this untenable situation and protect the lives and well-being of its citizens.