Pittsburgh City Council considering new stop-and-frisk policy for police

A new stop and search policy being considered by the Pittsburgh City Council would require police to document why they stop and search a pedestrian before doing so.

Under the proposed legislation, officers would have to use a body-worn camera or vehicle-mounted recording device to document their reasonable suspicion of initiating a stop and search.

The measure, sponsored by Councilman Ricky Burgess, advanced Wednesday to a 6-0 vote, with two abstaining and one absent.

The measure was introduced in January, but the council delayed action for several months to allow Burgess to meet with police and public safety officials to discuss the proposed policy. Burgess told council members Wednesday that he had reached an agreement with public safety officials regarding the legislation.

During a stop and search incident, police stop, search or detain a pedestrian without a warrant.

Under the proposed legislation, if the stop and search did not result in an arrest, the officer would have to provide the pedestrian with documentation explaining the reasonable suspicion that led to the stop. Exceptions include if “agent security or privacy requirements” would prevent agents from sharing this information.

A police-proposed amendment, expected to be introduced before a final vote next week, will change the measure, according to public safety spokeswoman Cara Cruz.

She said the amendment “clarifies that in any stop that does not result in an arrest, police will provide the pedestrian with a verbal explanation of why the individual was stopped, along with a police report number. that documents the reasonable suspicion, as opposed to providing immediate on-site documentation to the pedestrian.

When the The measure was introduced in January, Burgess said he thinks a new policy could help reduce racial profiling in stop-and-frisk incidents and make the system fairer. He cited statistics showing that nearly 70% of those encounters are with black residents.

The measure does not eliminate stop and frisk entirely, but rather seeks to ensure that there is probable cause for stops.

The legislation directs the Police Bureau to provide an annual police review to the Department of Public Security and the City Council.

Council chair Theresa Kail-Smith said she would prefer to hear from the city’s at-risk youth before moving the measure forward, as the council has scheduled a meeting with them to discuss the issues. The meeting was suggested after a spike in gun violence in the city, including a filming in an Airbnb early on Easter morning which left two teenagers dead and nine others injured.

“Right now, I think our young people are so touched, and they really want to have a voice,” Kail-Smith said. “I want to know what they think the answer is.”

It comes after City Council passed it late last year legislation banning Pittsburgh police from carrying out minor, secondary traffic stops offenses, like firing someone for a misplaced license plate or temporary tag even though it’s visible. Officers are not authorized to stop drivers when their registration, inspection or emissions stickers have been expired for less than two months.

Kail-Smith and Councilman Anthony Coghill abstained in Wednesday’s preliminary vote. Councilor Corey O’Connor was not present, but all other members voted in favor of moving the legislation forward for a final vote.

Julia Felton is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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