Group requests meeting with Sewickley Mayor, Chief of Police to answer questions on policing

SEWICKLEY, Pa. — Does Sewickley have a citizens review board with subpeona power? Are Sewickley police permitted to use “no knock” warrants? Does the department have body cameras? These are just a few of the questions a local group wants to get answered with a sit-down including the mayor and chief of police.

In a letter sent to Mayor Brian Jeffe, a group calling themselves Quaker Valley Inclusivity Alliance wants “to ascertain answers to... questions about policing in Sewickley.” The group is also requesting a public statement from the mayor supporting community policing, gathering and publishing data on all traffic and pedestrian stops, and establishing a Citizens Review Board.

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Here is the list of questions QVIA seeks answers to:

  • Community Oversight
    • Does Sewickley have a citizens review board with subpoena power? If not, what are the structures of accountability currently in place in the police department? What happens when a complaint is made against a Sewickley police officer?
    • Is officer misconduct and officer disciplinary history available to the public? If so, through what source? If not, why not?
    • Who hires and fires the police chief?
    • How are newly hired officers screened for prior discipline at other police departments?
    • Has the Sewickley police department reviewed the President’s Task Force on 21st century policing recommendations? If not, why not? If so, what recommendations has Sewickley implemented?
  • Use of Force
    • Does the Sewickley police department have a Use of Force Policy? If not, why not? If so, what are the rules about escalation of use of force? Are knee holds and choke holds banned under the policy? Is a copy of the Use of Force Policy available to the public?
    • Are Sewickley police permitted to execute “no knock” warrants?
    • How many times did the Sewickley PD use force in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 YTD?
    • Does Sewickley PD use military-type weapons such as those from the 1033 military surplus program?
    • Does the K-9 unit of the Sewickley PD have a written policy on the manner and circumstances in which canines are used by the police?
  • Data Collection in Policing
    • What data does the department collect now about police activity? Is the Monthly Police Report posted on the Sewickley Borough website the entirety of data collected?
    • Does Sewickley maintain data about the race of everyone who was stopped by police? If so, does the department analyze that data regularly to identify any racial disparities in community contact with police? If not, why not?
    • Does Sewickley have body worn cameras or dash cams? If so, what is the policy about these cameras being turned on/o at the officer’s discretion? What is the policy if reported misconduct happens while these cameras are malfunctioning?
    • Does the police department measure an officer’s performance by the number of tickets he issues or the number of arrests he makes?
    • What percentage of calls for police aid are for mental health crises? What percentage of calls for police are for physical health crises?
  • Officer Training
    • What training is required to become a police officer in Sewickley?
    • What ongoing training do officers receive? Are they required to do this ongoing training to get re-certified or is participation voluntary?
    • The 2020 Sewickley police budget reflects $5,000 allotted to “training,” and an additional $3,200 for “meetings and conferences.” $12,000 is budgeted for “Rifle Range.” What policing skills are being taught or reinforced with these $21,200 worth of policing expenses?
    • Does the department engage in implicit bias training or de-escalation training? Do Sewickley police officers receive training on responding to community members with mental health challenges? What portion of the budget is allocated to such trainings?
  • Police Union
    • Is there a police union contract with the Sewickley police department? If so, what are its terms? Is a copy of the collective bargaining agreement available for public view?
  • Jurisdiction
    • What law enforcement agencies operate in Sewickley? Do both Sewickley and Allegheny county law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction in Sewickley? If so, what agreements do they have about territory patrolled?
  • Funding
    • Who controls the funding of the police department? Does the police department receive additional funding beyond the $2,055,829 allocated to the police department by Sewickley Borough Council in 2020? If so, who provides that additional funding?
    • In 2017, the Sewickley police budget was $1,587,307. This year, it is $2,055,829. What explains the increase of almost $470,000 in three years?
  • Identity
    • Who is on the Sewickley police force? Is the name and badge number of each of Sewickley’s 11 full time and 22 part time officers a matter of public record? Where can that information be found?
    • What is the racial and gender make-up of the police force?
    • What percent of the force lives within Sewickley and Glen Osborne? What percent of the force lives within the larger Quaker Valley school district?
    • What was the racial and gender makeup of the most recent class of recruits?
    • When Chief Manko became chief in January 2017, the Sewickley police department had 9 full time officers and 9 part time officers. Now, in 2020, the department has 11 full time officers and 22 part time officers. What is the gender and racial makeup of the 15 officers hired by Chief Manko?
    • Who has Chief Manko promoted within the police department? What is the gender and racial makeup of promoted officers?
    • What is the gender and racial makeup of officers recruited/interviewed for the 15 hired positions during Chief Manko’s time as chief of the PD?

Sewickley Mayor Brian Jeffe gave Channel 11 the following statement:

“The Sewickley Police department is one of the best selling points of our community.  In my 11 years as Mayor (Volunteer) we have never had ANY written complaints from residents.  We have worked hard to develop a mutual trust and respect between our taxpayers and our officers (as evidenced by, not one but two, recent protests that went off without any issues).  In reading the QVIA letter it is clear that they don’t have a good understanding of how the department works.  I see this as a great opportunity to educate them while listening to comments/concerns.  We are good now but we certainly have room for improvement.  I welcome constructive, positive dialogue and look forward to our first meeting!”