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NCJ Number: NCJ 200251     Find in a Library
Title: Turning Necessity Into Virtue: Pittsburgh's Experience With a Federal Consent Decree
  Document URL: Text PDF 
  Agency Summary: Agency Summary 
Author(s): Robert C. Davis ; Christopher W. Ortiz ; Nicolel J. Henderson ; Joel Miller ; Michelle K. Massie
Corporate Author: Vera Institute of Justice
United States of America
Date Published: 08/06/2002
Page Count: 81
  Annotation: This report examines the 5-year experience of the police and citizens of Pittsburgh under a Federal court consent decree (statement of specific policy and practice changes the city must make), drawing lessons for other cities.
Abstract: This report is based on structured interviews with the police chief, the Federal court monitor, and city administrators. Researchers conducted focus groups with police officers and their supervisors and examined official data on police activity, public safety, discipline, and morale among police officers. Researchers also interviewed a cross-section of community activists and conducted a survey of 400 residents. The suit from which the decree stemmed alleged that "there is a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police that deprives persons of rights, privileges, and immunities secured and protected by the Constitution and the laws of the United States." The decree that resulted from the court hearing of this suit instructed the Bureau of Police to make comprehensive changes in oversight, training, and supervision of officers. Among the key elements of the decree was a requirement that the Bureau develop a computerized early-warning system to track individual officers' behavior; document uses of force, traffic stops, and searches; and provide annual training in cultural diversity, integrity, and ethics. The decree also required changes in the processing of citizen complaints. The reforms were monitored through quarterly reports to the court by a court-appointed monitor. The current evaluation identifies several elements of the Pittsburgh experience that helped bring the police department quickly into compliance with the decree. The mayor and other officials formed a strong and effective implementation committee that guided systematic compliance with the requirements of the decree. The study highlights the importance of public relations and employee relations for police departments that are engaged in reform. The survey of Pittsburgh residents indicated that public opinion of the police has improved in a number of respects, although improvements are perceived to be larger among Whites than among Blacks. Some community leaders continue to be concerned that accountability is low in the middle ranks of the police department and that the department is not yet capable of monitoring itself. 16 figures and appended details of the citizen survey
Main Term(s): Police reform
Index Term(s): Police corruption ; Court ordered institutional reform ; Court orders ; Police corruption causes ; Police misconduct ; Pennsylvania
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
US Dept of Justice
United States of America
Grant Number: 2001-CK-WX-K037
Sale Source: Vera Institute of Justice
233 Broadway, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10279
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Country: United States of America
Language: English
Note: Downloaded August 19, 2003.
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