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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Patch of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
PA - Pittsburgh Police Logo.png
Logo of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
Agency overview
Formed 1857
Preceding agency Pittsburgh Night Watchmen
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of Pittsburgh in the state of Pennsylvania, USA
Legal jurisdiction Municipal
Primary governing body Pittsburgh City Council
Secondary governing body Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 1203 Western Avenue, Pittsburgh
Officers 1000
Agency executive Nathan Harper, Chief of Police
Parent agency Public Safety Department
General Motors 1,000
Harleys 70
RiverRescue: 30' SeaArk Little Giants 2
RiverRescue: 25' Boston Whaler Guardians 1
RiverRescue: 19' Husky Airboats 1
German Shepherds 15
Belgian Malinois 2
Bloodhounds 1
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Pittsburgh Police, or officially the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, is the largest law enforcement agency in Western Pennsylvania and the third largest in Pennsylvania. The modern force of salaried and professional officers was founded in 1857 but dates back to the night watchmen beginning in 1794, and the subsequent day patrols in the early 1800s, in the then borough of Pittsburgh.



The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is part of the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety and is headed by Chief Nathan Harper appointed by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and approved by City Council. The Chief of Police is the top law enforcement agent of the city of Pittsburgh. In the Chiefs council are the positions of

  • Deputy Chief of Police Bureau
  • Chief of Staff Pittsburgh Police
  • Public Affairs Manager Pittsburgh Police
  • Legal Advisor to Pittsburgh Police

Reporting directly through the Deputy Chief of Police to the Chief are the three active units of the Police Bureau: Operations, Investigations, and Administration. Each one is headed by an Assistant Chief.


Operations Unit

Headed by the Assistant Chief of Operations, this unit is the most visible arm of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau. It consists six zones (the updated form of precincts) with each zone being supervised by the zone commander, as well as all zone patrol and response operations, SWAT, Traffic patrol, and Impound. This is also the unit that does community policing.

The six Pittsburgh Police zones are:

  • Zone One: Northside
  • Zone Two: Downtown, Hill District, Strip District, Lawrenceville
  • Zone Three: Southside, Beltzhoover, Carrick, St. Clair Village, Arlington Heights
  • Zone Four: Universities, Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Shadyside
  • Zone Five: East Liberty, East End, Homewood
  • Zone Six: West End, Banksville, Brookline, Beechview

If you wish to find out which zone you live in, you can check this list of neighborhoods or this map.

Investigations Unit

Headed by the Assistant Chief of Investigations Maurita Bryant, this unit overlays the operations staff with the detective and inspector corps of the Police Bureau. Its detective divisions are broken down into the following:

  • Auto taskforce
  • Arson Squad
  • Burglary Squad
  • Crime Stoppers
  • Crime Scene Investigators
  • Dignitary & Witness Security
  • Forfeiture
  • Gang Task Force
  • Homicide Squad
  • Missing Persons
  • Narcotics
  • Night Felony Squad
  • Nuisance Bar Task Force
  • Pawn
  • Robbery Squad
  • Sex Assault/Domestic Violence Squad
  • Financial Crimes Task Force

Administration Unit

Headed by the Assistant Chief of Administration, this is the least visible unit of the bureau but one that is possibly the most essential. It consists of eight major divisions.

  • Intel (Crime Analysis)
  • Police Academy/Training
  • Personnel & Finance
  • School Patrol
  • Special Events Logistics
  • Warrant Office
  • Records
  • Property Room

Ranks of the Pittsburgh Police

Title Insignia
Chief of Department
1 Gold Star.svg
Deputy Chief
Colonel Gold.png
Assistant Chief
US-O5 insignia.svg
US-O4 insignia.svg
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.png
Detective/Police Officer


  • Nate Harper - Chief of Police
  • Paul Donaldson - Deputy Chief
  • Regina McDonald - Assistant Chief (Administration)
  • William Bochter - Assistant Chief (Operations)
  • Maurita Bryant - Assistant Chief (Investigations)
  • RaShall Brackney - Commander (Zone 1 - North Side)
  • George Trosky - Commander (Zone 2 - Hill District)
  • Cathy McNeilly - Commander (Zone 3 - Allentown)
  • Kathy Degler - Commander (Zone 4 - Squirrel Hill)
  • Kevin Kraus - Commander (Zone 5 - East Liberty)
  • Scott Schubert - Commander (Zone 6 - SDD / West End)
  • Thomas Stangrecki - Commander (Major Crimes)
  • Cheryl Doubt - Commander (Narcotics & Vice)
  • Linda Barone - Commander (Support Services)

Modern era

Civil Rights Abuses and the 1997 Consent Decree

In 1996, after the deaths of two African-American men in Police custody, the ACLU and the NAACP filed a class action lawsuit against the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, alleging a pattern of civil rights abuses. After an investigation, the US Justice Department joined the suit in January 1997, stating "that there is a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police that deprives persons of rights, privileges, and immunities secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States."[1]

After a brief court challenge, the City entered into a consent decree with the Federal Government in April 1997 that outlined the steps that it would take to improve its conduct. The decree was lifted from the Police Bureau in 2001, and from the Office of Municipal Investigation in 2002.[2]

Further, community activists in Pittsburgh successfully used a referendum to create an independent review board in 1997.[3]

Despite these measures, tensions remain between the Police Bureau and African-Americans in Pittsburgh. A study commissioned by the US Department Of Justice in 2001 found that 70% of Pittsburgh's African-American residents believe it either "very common" or "somewhat common" for "police officers in Pittsburgh to use excessive force" and that only 48% feel that the Police are doing a "very good" or "somewhat good" "job of fighting crime, while 77% of white residents responded so.[2]

Special hat bands

The Pittsburgh police wear hats with checkered bands, popularly known as the 'Sillitoe Tartan' and named after its originator, Percy J. Sillitoe, Chief Constable of Glasgow, Scotland in the 1930s. While the checkered band is a common police symbol in the United Kingdom, Australia and some European countries, the Chicago Police Department, Cook County Sheriff's Police, San Ricardo Police Department and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police are the only police forces in the United States that have adopted it as part of their police officer uniforms.

Pittsburgh Police Medals

The Pittsburgh Police have several honors and medals including:

  • Medal of Valor

The highest honor of any Pittsburgh Police officer. It is awarded only for acts occurring in the most exceptional of circumstances. Recognizing acts of bravery and heroism in the protection of life, while taking on great personal risk and without compromising any bureau mission.

  • Valor Ribbon:

Awarded along with the Medal of Valor.

  • Commendation:

Open to members and non-members of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau who have displayed initiative in performing tasks above and beyond that which is required in a professional manner. In 2007 38 officers received Commendations.

  • Purple Heart:

To those who in the course of criminal apprehension efforts, sustained serious injury, disability or wounds. In 2007 three officers received this award.

  • Meritorious Service:

Open to all officers who have distinguished themselves in exhibiting professional excellence in their tasks or duties. As well as those that contribute significantly towards improving the objectives of the bureau. In 2007 sixteen officers received this award.

  • Bureau of Police Citation:

Open to all officers and non-members who performed a task of bravery or heroism above and beyond the call of duty and in the face of great personal risk in life-saving or life-protecting circumstances. In 2007 nine officers were recognized.

  • Officer of the Month:

Selected by committee of the Chief, Deputy Chief and three Assistant Chiefs from a single nomination from each zone commander, there can be more than one selected per month.

  • Officer of the Year:

Selected from all officers of the months and all officers receiving commendations through the year by committee of the Chief, Deputy Chief and all three Assistant Chiefs.

2009 police shooting

On April 4, 2009, three Pittsburgh police officers were killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance in the Stanton Heights area of the city. The officers, all from the Zone 5 station are Eric Kelly, a 14-year veteran of the Bureau, Stephen Mayhle, and Paul Sciullo II, both two-year veterans.[4] Two other officers were injured. Timothy McManaway was shot in the hand trying to help Officer Kelly, and Brian Jones broke his leg when a fence collapsed.[5] Police Chief Nathan Harper said Officer Mayhle was married and had two children; Officer Kelly was married and had three children; and Officer Sciullo was single.


  • Male: 75%
  • Female: 25%
  • White: 75%
  • African-American/Black: 25%

Fictional portrayals

The Pittsburgh Police have been featured in many television and film portrayals. Among them:



See also


  1. ^ Pittsburgh Police
  2. ^ a b Vera Institute of Justice
  3. ^ Citizens Police Review Board Members
  4. ^ Chris Togneri, Chris Togneri (April 5, 2009). "Man 'lying in wait' kills 3 police officers in Stanton Heights". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Retrieved 2009-04-05.  
  5. ^ Nephin, Dan; Ramit Plushnick-Masti (April 4, 2005). "Gunman 'lying in wait' kills 3 Pittsburgh officers". The Associated Press; hosted by Retrieved 2009-04-05.  
  6. ^ Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers

External links


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