Pittsburgh's Citizen Police Review Board mulls policy changes
By Margaret Harding
Published: Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 10:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh police should make common-sense changes to policies covering how officers respond to 911 “unknown trouble” calls, the executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board said Monday.
Elizabeth Pittinger will present recommendations at the board's meeting Tuesday along with a report on findings of the board's investigation into the 911 call Ka'Sandra Wade, 33, of Larimer made a day before police found her dead of a gunshot wound at her Lowell Street home. Two Pittsburgh police officers responding to the call left after Wade's boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown, 51, of Point Breeze, spoke to them through a window but refused to let them in. The officers never spoke to Wade or confirmed whether she was inside and needed help.
Brown confessed to killing her, then committed suicide during a standoff at his apartment early Jan. 2.
“The general issues that surround the horror she must've felt and how could this happen and all the questions we've heard are pretty broad,” Pittinger said.
The recommendations deal with how police should respond to “unknown trouble” — when people call 911 but hang up without specifying their situation or problem — and domestic violence calls, Pittinger said. The six-member board must determine whether to offer the recommendations to police officials and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
“They have no duty to implement them,” Pittinger said. “It's an advisory recommendation.”
Both the review board and the city's Office of Municipal Investigations look into complaints of officer misconduct. OMI investigates complaints against police, and the police chief must accept its findings. It does not make disciplinary recommendations or decisions.
The board previously worked with Councilman Ricky Burgess as he drafted a police accountability bill, which created new reporting requirements for city police following the beating of a Homewood teenager during an arrest in 2010. The board also helped with recommendations for a domestic violence policy for city officers.
The review board's meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers, also will focus on Pittsburgh police actions during a pursuit in the South Side. Five off-duty officers opened fire when a vehicle fleeing Homestead police careened along East Carson Street as the bars emptied early Jan. 13. A bullet grazed a bystander; the officers wounded the driver, Donald Burris Jr., 32, of Carnegie and his mother, Lena Davenport, 49, of Wilkinsburg. Burris faces charges.
“They hustled,” Pittinger said. “They got people out of the way, but you have the incident of the live fire. There's a lot to look at there.”
Deputy police Chief Paul Donaldson said both the Wade and Burris investigations are ongoing.
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or email@example.com.
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.
- Police say they arrested a fellow cop for driving drunk after he shows up to work intoxicated
- Peduto puts on mayor hat at Harvard ‘camp’
- Allegheny County police arrest 29 on drug charges in Pitcairn area
- Long-overdue memorial to region’s World War II vets opens
- Newsmaker: Mark Kamlet
- Baldwin-Whitehall board hits ‘magical line of dissatisfaction’
- 2 wounded in East Hills shooting