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Pittsburgh Police Make Policy And Procedural Changes Following Jim Rogers' Death

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The police union president and others are speaking out a day after the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police announced policy and procedural changes following the death of Jim Rogers. Rogers suffered cardiac arrest after police tased him in Bloomfield two months ago.

Fraternal Order of Police President Robert Swartzwelder says he can't jump to conclusions until he learns more about what happened back on Oct. 13 in Bloomfield, but he says he does know this when it comes to the taser training Pittsburgh police officers already get: "From my perspective, the taser training is some of the best conducted training annually that's out there," said Swartzwelder.

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police announced Tuesday that eight Pittsburgh police officers, including two supervisors, will face disciplinary action for their role in the tasing of Rogers. The bureau's Critical Incident Review Board determined after reviewing evidence that a series of procedural failures contributed to Rogers' death.

Following their investigation, the board issued major recommendations for policy changes to help prevent this from happening again, including making sure a supervisor is present and that patients get a medical assessment after use of force and incidents involving a taser will​ require an emergency medical response.

Pittsburgh police personnel will also be retrained on the duty to intervene policy.

"All procedural changes related to the taser are already covered and any new changes they want to make, that's strictly an administrative issue," said Swartzwelder. "Supervisors typically respond on their own, period, so if this is a change the city wants to make, it's up to them."

As for Beth Pittinger, who heads up the independent citizen police review board for the city of Pittsburgh, she says these changes are a step in the right direction, calling the situation a "fiasco" and "total system failure."

"To see the city so forthright to hold them accountable and acknowledging the facts of the situation, that's a positive," said Pittinger.

However, Pittinger says what comes of this, in terms of a criminal investigation, remains to be seen.

The district attorney's office says they're still waiting on a report from the medical examiner's office and is working with Allegheny County police.

Tim Stevens with the Black Political Empowerment Project says he appreciates that the death of Jim Rogers hasn't been ignored and was taken seriously by Pittsburgh police and public safety.

The president of the NAACP Pittsburgh branch, Johnny Miott, says he's thankful the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is doing something about this so that Jim Rogers' death is not in vain.

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