Pittsburgh Police make changes to undercover operations

Pittsburgh Police make changes to undercover operations

Pittsburgh — Pittsburgh Police administration this week shared what policy changes they’ve implemented since an undercover operation two years ago led to officers fighting with members of the Pagan motorcycle club during a nuisance bar operation.

“That was not a shining moment for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police,” said Chief Scott Schubert. “We’re not perfect. We do make mistakes."

The policy changes, announced at a Citizen’s Police Review Board meeting, include limiting officers to two alcoholic drinks in a four hour period during undercover operations and prohibiting them to drive afterward.

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“When you’re in a bar and you feel there’s illegal activity going on, a lot of folks know who comes to those bars on a regular basis and if you come in and you’re not drinking or at least it looks like you’re drinking then you will be look at as some suspicious, probably a police officer,” said Assistant Chief Lavonnie Bickerstaff.

One of the board members asked if the department is going to start testing officers for alcohol before and after an undercover detail and Bickerstaff said that’s something the department is considering.

The incident that sparked the changes was captured on a surveillance camera inside Kopy’s Bar on the South Side, where four undercover officers were seen fighting with the Pagans.

The officers were placed on leave but later reinstated, and the incident led to the filing of several lawsuits.

1 officer involved in Kopy's Bar brawl reassigned, city says