Zappala asks police departments to work with DA's office on robbery charges
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. on Tuesday requested that police departments throughout the county receive permission from his office before they file robbery charges.
The impetus, Zappala said, was three or four robbery cases in recent months in which police arrested the wrong person.
“We have to be more and more on the front end because when you arrest somebody it changes their lives,” said Zappala, who filed the request in Common Pleas Court.
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar and his spokeswoman, Sonya Toler, did not respond to requests for comment.
County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said he hadn't seen the request and could not comment.
Zappala said the practice is endorsed by many organizations, including the National District Attorneys Association. President Judge Jeffrey A. Manning must approve the request, which would go into effect 30 days after he signs it.
Requiring police agencies to get a prosecutor's approval is not new. In 2005, Zappala forced police to get approval before they file homicide charges; in 2010, he required they get approval for crimes of child abuse and felony sex assaults; and last year, he made police get approval for crimes involving persons 65 years of age or older.
Last month, Zappala required that city and county police get approval from his office before they issue felony arrest warrants that rely on eyewitnesses who don't know the suspect unless the departments changed their procedures for identification. His demand set off a firestorm between himself and Bucar, who disagreed with the procedures that Zappala endorsed.
A state Supreme Court ruling earlier this year said defense attorneys can call eyewitness experts to testify in court to debunk the perceived accuracy of eyewitness identification.
One way of keeping the integrity of those cases is to have a prosecutor review the evidence before police file charges, Zappala said.
“A lot of the language was a communication to the prosecutors in Pennsylvania (from that Supreme Court decision) that if you're going to charge somebody, then your case better have been investigated thoroughly,” he said. “So we're going to require that.”
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers use 3 late first-half TDs to stun Texans
- Rossi: Steelers’ season all about going big
- White Oak moves forward on community center
- Liberty hires 2 part-time police officers, honors another
- Pittsburgh police officers start wearing video cameras
- Raptor system helps to protect Ringgold students
- Demand for hazmat suits due to Ebola outbreak triples firm’s production
- McKeesport Area first-grader brings toy gun on school bus
- 12-year-old’s donated heart joins families, lets her memory live
- Kin of 2013 DUI crash victim in Hempfield lose young family in fire
- DNA evidence in alleged June 2013 rape leads to Latrobe man’s arrest