Police Can No Longer Respond To All Crimes Due To Shortages

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has announced a significant change in its response protocol due to ongoing staffing shortages.

As of February 26, 2024, officers were no longer responding in person to specific non-emergency calls, including reports of theft, harassment, criminal mischief, and most burglary alarms. Instead, these incidents are directed to an enhanced Telephone Reporting Unit (TRU), where residents can file reports over the phone.

Additionally, the department has announced that no officers will be stationed at any of the six police zones between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Residents in need of emergency assistance during these times will have access to ‘blue phone’ direct lines to 911 outside all police zones and the Downtown Public Safety Center.

In light of these changes, the Bureau will also alter shift patterns, moving from traditional eight-hour workdays to four 10-hour shifts each week, affording officers three consecutive days off. This transition is expected to promote officer wellness, a core value emphasized by Police Chief Larry Scirotto.

A centralized deployment has been established for the night shift. Police units will be strategically placed throughout the zones, staffed by multiple supervisors and a night watch commander who will oversee operations and allocate resources to areas of need throughout the city.

There will be a formation of the Violent Crime Division, which will include the Homicide, Narcotics, Intelligence, and Violence Prevention Unit, with the overarching goal of reducing violent crime and gun violence.

The City of Pittsburgh website will feature a Pittsburgh Police Cares portal modeled on the current Zone 1 Cares initiative. The portal will be a one-stop shop for police/community engagement events, safety alerts, monthly crime statistics, and zone/neighborhood-centered news.

Citizens will be able to report crimes online.

Burglar alarms will require a second confirmation before an officer responds. Scirotto said that in a year of 9,500 burglary calls, the majority of them were false alarms, which cost the department 4,000 personnel hours.

Other schedule changes include officers switching to 10-hour shifts four days a week and one-hour breaks to focus on mental health.

District Attorney Steve Zappala told reporters that he was critical of the changes and they didn’t make sense to him.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey supported Scirotto’s decision to make cutbacks on staffing.