Pittsburgh city leaders talk about police reform following days of protests

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh’s mayor Bill Peduto is introducing new police reform initiatives that will take effect immediately, he said during a news conference Thursday.

Peduto has called for two investigations into how the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police responded to protests in the city over the last several days.

“For the past six years, we have reformed the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. We have worked hard,” Peduto said. “For six years, we have put in the reforms to keep the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police from going under a third consent decree by the Department of Justice and I will work to make sure we don’t, during my term as mayor.”

Some of those reforms include:

  • Requires officers to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force
  • Have a Force Continuum, or Matrix, included in their use of force policy, defining the types of force/weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance
  • Explicitly prohibit chokeholds and strangleholds (including carotid restraints) or limit these tactics to situations where deadly force is authorized
  • Requires officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before using deadly force
  • Prohibits officers from shooting at people in moving vehicles unless the person poses a deadly threat by means other than vehicle (for example, shooting at people from the vehicle)
  • Requires officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to using deadly force
  • Requires officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force
  • Requires officers to report all uses of force including threatening another civilian with a firearm

Mayor Peduto has also signed President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Pledge to:

  1. REVIEW the police use of forces in my community
  2. ENGAGE my community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in our review
  3. REPORT the findings of our review to my community and seek feedback within 90 days of signing this pledge
  4. REFORM my community’s police use of force policies based on findings