The University of Pittsburgh Police Department values the voices in our community that have called for police reforms, accountability and open communication. To that end, we want to provide an update on various issues that have been discussed on local and national levels.
In most cases, the policies of Pitt Police are reflective of the model policies put forth by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The IACP policy center identifies and provides guidance to the law enforcement profession.
Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
The use of neck restraints and chokeholds are prohibited unless deadly force is warranted. Deadly force is defined as force that is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person. (Use of Force Policy. Section 9.0.Subsection C)
The Pitt Police Department has policy and training on de-escalation. Policy dictates that verbal interaction is to be used to gain compliance. Various training such as crisis intervention training, implicit bias training, cultural awareness and preventing discrimination and sexual violence training provide our officers with a toolbox of options designed to diffuse contentious and/or potentially violent interactions. (Use of Force Policy. Section 9.0.Subsection B)
Require warning before shooting
The Pitt Police Department has policy and training with respect to the use of deadly force. The policy directs officers that, when feasible and when officer safety and the safety of others is not compromised, the officers will identify themselves and command the subject to comply. (Use of Force Policy. Section 7.0)
Exhaust all other means before shooting
The Pitt Police Department has policy and training on the use of deadly force. We recognize the value of human life and we are committed to respecting the dignity of every individual. Accordingly, the sanctity of human life is central to the department’s mission, policies, training and tactics. The authority to carry and use firearms in the course of public service is an enormous responsibility. Respect for human life requires that, in all cases, deadly force be used only as a last resort. (Use of Force Policy. Section 9.0)
Duty to intervene
The Pitt Police Department has specific language and policy on an officer’s duty to intervene. The policy compels an officer to intervene if they know or should have known that another officer is about to use or is using force that is plainly recognized as “unreasonable.” This duty is emphasized in training as well. It’s a duty that is central to the moral fabric of policing. (Use of Force Policy. Section 6.0)
Ban shooting at moving vehicles
By policy, the use of deadly force by discharging a firearm at a vehicle is only authorized when the officer has reasonable belief that the occupant of the vehicle poses an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person, and there is no reasonable avenue of escape. Pitt officers train to this standard by participating in simulator and scenario-based applications. (Use of Force Policy. Section 12.0)
Require use of force continuum
We have specific policy that explains the use of force continuum. The continuum provides guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. Additionally, the policy provides potential examples of subject resistance and where that resistance intersects with the continuum. (Use of Force Policy. Section 9.0)
Require comprehensive reporting
The Pitt Police Department has a specific, detailed policy on reporting “Use of Force” incidents. The policy states that the incident will be documented when an officer uses force beyond the normal guiding and directing in an official capacity on or off duty. The reports are prepared by supervisory personnel and reviewed by the officer’s entire chain of command and subject to internal affairs review if force, or the level of force, is deemed unnecessary. (Use of Force Policy. Section 13.0)
We recognize our responsibility to make every effort to serve all persons in a dignified and courteous manner, and exhibit understanding of cultural and ethnic diversity both in our professional and personal lives.
While we have come a long way through the years, we realize that there is work to be done. We are committed to working in partnership with our community to be responsive, and to blend strategic planning with community concerns.