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Pittsburgh Bureau of Police announces operational changes that will go into effect next week

Pittsburgh police announce restructuring and new initiatives
Pittsburgh police announce restructuring and new initiatives 02:35

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Beginning on Monday, changes are coming to the operations side of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

According to police, personnel will be transitioning from the traditional eight-hour work days to four 10-hour shifts with three consecutive days off. Officers will respond to 50,000 calls instead of 200,000, police said. The remaining 150,000 calls will go to a telephone reporting unit and online reporting.

Chief Larry Scirotto said the change is in an effort to increase officer wellness, a priority for him as chief. 

"An additional day away from work each week to focus on family, friends, or outside pursuits is key to creating a healthy workforce and contributes to the Bureau's goal of not only recruiting new officers but retaining them for the long haul, " said Chief Scirotto. 

Those same officers will also get one hour of wellness time each week which they are free to use during their shift at their discretion. 

There will also be other changes made including the formation of the Violent Crime Division to include homicide, narcotics, intelligence, and the violence prevention unit with a focus on reducing violent crime and gun violence. 

A new watch commander will be added to the night shift and there will be centralized deployment for that shift - meaning units will be placed strategically to better suit the needs of the city. Twenty-seven officers will cover the night watch. The chief said that is enough to cover the city at a time when call volumes are low. 

"Data said from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. that we had 8% of our call volume, yet we had 33% of our personnel working during that time," the chief said. "So, it didn't make sense for us to continue that level of allocation."

The city is also getting blue phones that have a direct line to 911 outside of all six zones. 

"Following thorough audits of how police resources were being allocated, these improvements are backed by data to ensure that the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is serving the city in the most efficient and responsible manner, placing the primary focus on areas of concern to enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods, improve community/police partnerships, and prioritize officer wellness," said Scirotto. "These are my key priorities for the Bureau, which will only serve to strengthen public safety in the city."

Currently, the department has 740 officers in operation, with 41 in training. A portion of that group will go live the first week of June. The goal is to get the department back up to 850 officers.

For Mayor Ed Gainey, the improvements are part of the promise he made to change policing in the city.

"This is what we mean by police reform," Gainey said. "Making sure that we are meeting today's needs with technology that exists today. And in that, we had to change direction."

Another initiative is the Pittsburgh Police Cares portal on the city's website, which will be centered around building community engagement.  

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