Pittsburgh police chief suspends non-emergency call policy change

The Pittsburgh police has decided not to continue with a policy change that would have had officers taking some crime reports only by phone, instead of face-to-face with the victims.

The city Public Safety Department now says there will be immediate changes to the new policy and officers will respond in-person to simple assault, harassment and terroristic-threat reports, even if there’s no immediate danger posed in the situation, reports WTAE.

The order raised concerns among city residents, domestic violence groups and some city council members.

According to WPXI, Pittsburgh Councilwoman Darlene Harris was the most vocal when the order came out.

“Public safety is No. 1 in my book, and I believe if you call for a police officer and you need a police officer and it’s crime on a person, that officer should come to your house,” said Harris.

Changes came after a closed-door meeting of Police Chief Cameron McLay, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich, Harris and several other City Council members, reports WTAE.

The chief suspended the order after the meeting.  McLay said intentions were to give his officers more time to patrol, instead of responding to minor incidents, and to help with the department’s officer shortage.

City Council will hold a public meeting with McLay on September 20 to discuss the policies.

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