Police Trim Staff 3-7 A.M., Respond Only to Emergencies

(DailyVantage.com) – Due to shift reductions at the Pittsburgh Police Department, officers will only respond to calls between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. if the caller indicates the presence of an ongoing emergency. To offset the reduction in responding officers, the city of Pittsburgh created a new policing unit known as the Telephone Reporting Unit. This unit monitors calls not categorized as emergencies and produces a report to record the call’s details. If dispatchers consider a call an emergency or if a caller provides proof of a suspect’s presence, officers are required to respond.

The city police department released a statement about the reduction in responding officers, citing multiple reasons for the lack of staff during the early morning hours. According to the department, the Pittsburgh police receive far fewer calls during the early morning hours, so officers aren’t required to be as available as they are during the daytime. To offset the lack of patrol officers, city officials recently built numerous stationary call machines connecting directly to the Pittsburgh Police Department.

Some reports indicate that during the 3-7 a.m. shift, there could be as few as 22 police personnel to monitor the entirety of Pittsburgh. Despite criticisms from city residents and online commenters, Larry Scirotto, Pittsburgh’s Chief of Police, defended the policy change and provided an explanation for the questionable decision. Scirotto said that during the early morning hours, the police department receives about eight percent of the calls that occur during the day. Scirotto cited the new policy as an attempt by city officials to use the city’s budget more efficiently while maintaining the safety of Pittsburgh residents.

Scirotto also referred to Pittsburgh’s ongoing police personnel shortage, which saw almost 100 officers leave the force throughout 2023. Pittsburgh officials said 900 officers are a fully-staffed department, but the city only has 740 police personnel still working there. Scirotto claims that by reducing the number of officers available during the slower hours of the day, more officers can patrol during the busier hours and make up for the lack of personnel.

Despite Scirotto’s claims, other law enforcement officials cite the new city policy as potentially dangerous for city residents. One such official is Bob Swartzwelder, a president of the Fraternal Order of Police, who believes the new policy is an effort to reduce expenses for the Pittsburgh Police Department. According to Swartzwelder, the new policy could prove successful or end in a “disaster,” depending on how the following weeks unfold.

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