Pittsburgh Police

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Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Common name Pittsburgh Police
Abbreviation PBP
Patch of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Logo of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Flag of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.svg
Flag of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Agency overview
Formed 1857
Preceding agency Pittsburgh Night Watchmen
Employees 2,092
Annual budget $70,606,746 (2010)[1]
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, PA
Officers 1,230
Non-sworns 188
Agency executive Cameron McLay, Chief of Police
Parent agency Public Safety Department
General Motors 660
Harleys 40
RiverRescue: 30' SeaArk Little Giants 6
RiverRescue: 25' Boston Whaler Guardians 6
RiverRescue: 19' Husky Airboats 4
German Shepherds 25
Belgian Malinois 12
Bloodhounds 17
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Pittsburgh Police (PBP), 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 19th century, in the then borough of Pittsburgh. By 1952 the Bureau had a strength of 1,400 sworn officers[2] in July 1985, 1,200[3] and by November 1989, 1,040.[4]


The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is part of the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety and is headed by Chief Cameron McLay appointed by Mayor Bill Peduto 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.


The original headquarters were at Sixth Avenue and William Penn Way in downtown. In 1918 it moved into the Pittsburgh City-County Building, 1925 to Water Street,[5] 1960s Grant Street Public Safety Building, Western Avenue Northside.

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 team, Traffic patrol, and Impound. This is also the unit that does community policing.

The six Pittsburgh Police zones are:[6]

In 2010 the average Pittsburgh police zone had 12.8 officers, 2.8 detectives, 1.2 sergeants and .5 lieutenants on duty during any 8 hour shift.[1] City wide for any 8 hour 2010 shift this translates to 76.8 officers, 16.8 detectives, 7.2 sergeants and 3 lieutenants.

In 1918 the city debuted a mounted squad, having had some mounted officers as early as 1906. Police motorcycles were first used by the bureau starting in 1910.[5]

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


Pittsburgh Police officers are members of the local Lodge (branch) of the Fraternal Order of Police.

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)
  • Office of Municipal Investigations (Internal Affairs)
  • Police Academy/Training
  • Personnel & Finance
  • Property Room
  • Records
  • School Patrol
  • Special Events Logistics
  • Warrant Office

Ranks of the Pittsburgh Police

Title Insignia
Chief of Department
1 Gold Star.svg
Assistant Chief
US-O5 insignia.svg
US-O4 insignia.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Detective/Police Officer

(with the January 2015 retirement of Paul Donaldson the position of Deputy Chief has been eliminated)


  • Cameron McLay: Chief of Police
  • Eric Holmes: (Acting) Chief of Staff
  • Thomas Stangrecki: Assistant Chief (Administration)
  • Scott Schburt: Assistant Chief (Operations)
  • Maurita Bryant: Assistant Chief (Investigations)
  • Lavonnie Bickerstaff: Commander (Zone 1: North Side)
  • Annie Kudrav: Commander (Zone 2: Hill District)
  • Karen Dixon: Commander (Zone 3: Allentown)
  • Daniel Herrman: Commander (Zone 4: Squirrel Hill)
  • Jason Lando: Commander (Zone 5: Highland Park)
  • Christopher Ragland: Commander (Zone 6: SDD / West End)
  • Larry Scirotto: Commander (Major Crimes)
  • Linda Barone: Commander (Narcotics & Vice)
  • Kathy Degler: Commander (Support Services)
  • Jennifer Biddle: Commander Office of Professional Standards

Police Chiefs

Modern era


From 1901 to the early 1990s Pittsburgh Police were unique in having a "trial board" system of discipline.[7]

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 U.S. 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".[8]

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.[9] Community activists in Pittsburgh successfully used a referendum to create an independent review board in 1997.[10] A study commissioned by the U.S. 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.[9]

In February 2013, the FBI and IRS seized boxes of documents from police headquarters and the independent police credit union concerning thousands of deposits and withdrawals of taxpayer money from unauthorized accounts.[11][12][13] Allegations have been made against former Chief Nate Harper, who was forced to resign on February 20, 2013 due to the FBI and IRS investigations. On March 22, a Federal Grand Jury indicted Harper for stealing over $31,000 in taxpayer money as well as not filing personal income tax returns for years 2008-2011. Harper had various checks deposited into these unauthorized secret accounts that were skimmed off a police fund, and then he used a debit card to withdraw cash as well as use the debit card to spend lavishly on food and alcohol in high-end restaurants, buy a satellite radio, gift cards, perfume, and even an oven upgrade. The full indictment was published by local media.[14]

Two Pittsburgh Police vehicles parked at Market Square. In the foreground, a Ford Taurus Police Interceptor with the fleet's new livery, while in the background is a Chevrolet Impala displaying the Bureau's old livery.

Uniforms and equipment

Officers generally wear a very dark navy blue almost appearing to be black uniform. Officers with the rank of lieutenant and above no longer wear white uniform shirts, as all officers wear a navy blue uniform shirt, and white shirts and dress blouses are reserved for ceremonial occasions. SWAT and Tactical units wear olive drab green uniforms. Name tags are either embroidered or the traditional nameplate. Some officers will wear a very dark navy blue/black tie, but this is not a requirement for normal duties. They will also sometimes wear a traditional service cap, with a unique Sillitoe Tartan (explained below). Officers are equipped with O.C. spray (Mace), police radio, duty belt, handcuffs, extra ammunition, service pistol, bulletproof vest, baton, first aid kit, and flashlight. Many officers are now carrying tasers.[15]

The new Chief, Public Safety Director, and Mayor along with a department uniform committee have been making a myriad of changes to uniforms and equipment. One of the most visible changes being a black crew neck undershirt in lieu of the previous V-neck worn with the summer short sleeve shirts. This was a compromise after officers were originally told they would have to wear ties with the short sleeve shirts. A controversial change occurred in 2014 when officers were no longer permitted to wear outer ballistic vests as the administration deemed it looked too 'aggressive'. This was reversed and officers are now permitted to wear external carriers. The department is planning to implement the use of body cameras on officers, and are already on some officers in a limited trial basis.


Some officers carry expandable batons, and some officers carry more traditional wooden straight batons. These batons sometimes are connected to a leather strap.

Service pistols

Service pistols are usually Glocks. The officer must purchase their own service pistol. If officers were hired with the bureau in or prior to the year 1992, they have the option to carry a revolver on duty. Officers hired in 1993 and after must carry a semi-automatic pistol on duty. Prior to 1985 all officers could carry was the .38 caliber 5 or 6 shot revolvers. In 1985 the bureau phased in the use of 9 mm semi-automatics only to the Special Operations and Narcotics units. In early 1990 all officers were allowed and encouraged to carry 9 mm semi-automatics, with the training and ammunition change over costing the city roughly $2 million.[4]

Hat bands

The Pittsburgh police wear hats with checkered bands, which are dark navy blue and gold in color, 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, the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police are the only police forces in the United States that have adopted it as part of their uniforms.

As recently as July 1930, police were required to wear a 13-ounce hat.[16]

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 shootings

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.[17] 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.[18] 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.


2010 Source:[1]

  • Male: 81%
  • Female: 19%
  • White: 83%
  • African-American/Black: 17%

Fallen officers

Name Rank Badge/Serial Number Tour End of Watch Age Cause of death
Samuel H. Ferguson Night Watchman 5 years April 21, 1853 50 Stabbed
Daniel McMullen Police Officer 4 years December 18, 1869 30 Assault
Isaac Jones Police Officer September 23, 1871 34 Assault
John A. Weimar Police Officer August 24, 1874 39 Gunfire
Thomas Lyons Police Officer 5 months July 16, 1878 23 Assault
John Wiggins Police Officer 2 years, 10 months November 9, 1880 38 Gunfire
Edward O`Dwyer Police Officer 3 months July 5, 1881 25 Stabbed
John F. Evans Police Officer August 6, 1885 31 Gunfire
George H. Woods Police Officer 9 years September 6, 1886 37 Fall
Thomas Chidlow Police Officer 20 years May 24, 1888 49 Struck by train
Peter P. Dillon Police Officer 3 years September 20, 1894 33 Electrocuted
Patrick F. Doyle Police Officer 3 years August 8, 1895 42 Heart attack
John A. Berry Lieutenant 11 years, 10 months February 9, 1898 34 Fire
Charles Metzgar Police Officer 14 years May 11, 1898 48 Gunfire
William Scanlon Police Officer 10 years July 8, 1898 38 Assault
David W. Lewis Police Officer 19 years, 4 months August 7, 1900 55 Assault
Patrick E. Fitzgerald Detective 24 years April 12, 1901 45 Gunfire
James H. Sheehy Police Officer 6 years May 18, 1902 35 Gunfire
John G. Kelty Police Officer January 11, 1903 47 Train accident
Andrew J. Kelly Police Officer October 4, 1903 29 Gunfire
Casper Mayer Police Officer 11 months April 1, 1904 37 Electrocuted
Albert M. Teeters Captain 29 years, 2 months October 22, 1904 52 Gunfire (Accidental)
George M. Cochran Wagonman 436 20 years, 7 months November 13, 1904 65 Automobile accident
James Farrell Police Officer 1 year, 2 months October 23, 1908 32 Gunfire (Accidental)
William Walsh Police Officer 253 7 years October 20, 1909 40 Drowned
John J. McDonough Police Officer 13 years, 10 months September 29, 1913 40 Assault
Michael Grab Police Officer 10 years March 3, 1914 43 Struck by streetcar
George H. Shearer Police Officer 545 12 years May 12, 1914 41 Gunfire
Edgar M. Hyland Patrolman May 26, 1917 38 Assault
Charles L. Edinger Patrolman 10 years, 7 months June 6, 1917 33 Gunfire
Thomas P. Farrell Patrolman 14 years, 7 months March 2, 1918 55 Gunfire
George Hofmann Patrolman 13 years October 30, 1919 39 Gunfire
Peter K. Tsorvas Detective 2 years November 2, 1920 30 Gunfire
William J. Johnston Patrolman 17 years, 10 months May 2, 1921 74 Struck by streetcar
Edward G. Couch Patrolman 18 years October 30, 1922 42 Gunfire
Daniel J. Conley Patrolman 2 years December 30, 1922 28 Gunfire
Casper T. Schmotzer Sergeant 13 years, 6 months January 23, 1923 36 Gunfire
John J. Rudolph Patrolman 4 years, 6 months April 3, 1923 29 Motorcycle accident
Joseph Jovanovic Patrolman 4 months July 7, 1924 22 Gunfire
Joseph L. Riley Patrolman 5 years, 2 months August 3, 1924 33 Automobile accident
Robert J. Galloway Lieutenant 18 years August 26, 1924 47 Gunfire (Accidental)
Samuel R. McGreevy Patrolman 17 years, 8 months October 9, 1924 46 Automobile accident
Albert B. Burris Lieutenant 22 years, 6 months June 30, 1925 52 Heart attack
Charles L. Cooper, Jr. Patrolman 1 year, 1 month August 17, 1925 28 Gunfire
James F. Farrell Patrolman 24 years, 2 months July 6, 1927 58 Gunfire
William P. Johnson Patrolman October 23, 1927 71 Gunfire
Ralph P. Gentile Patrolman 4 years November 1, 1928 24 Motorcycle accident
John J. Schemm Patrolman 7 years, 8 months December 21, 1928 39 Fall
Stephen Janeda Patrolman 8 years, 8 months July 15, 1929 30 Motorcycle accident
James E. Hughes Lieutenant 24 years December 27, 1929 50 Gunfire
Orrie N. Murray Patrolman 5 years, 2 months June 25, 1930 32 Motorcycle accident
Anthony E. Rahe Patrolman 2 years, 1 month August 7, 1930 29 Motorcycle accident
Joseph J. Beran Patrolman 11 years January 28, 1931 45 Struck by vehicle
George J. Sallade Patrolman 2 years, 8 months October 5, 1933 32 Motorcycle accident
Roy W. Freiss Patrolman 8 years, 6 months February 3, 1935 38 Struck by vehicle
Robert L. Kosmal Patrolman 7 years, 2 months August 17, 1935 28 Gunfire
John J. Schemm Patrolman 7 years, 8 months December 21, 1928 39 Fall
Albert L. Jacks Inspector 22 years, 8 months April 17, 1936 47 Duty related illness
Charles M. Snyder Patrolman 14 years January 25, 1937 58 Drowned
George A. Kelley Patrolman 12 years February 12, 1937 35 Struck by vehicle
John J. Scanlon Patrolman 15 years August 21, 1937 40 Automobile accident
Edward M. Conway Patrolman 8 years, 11 months June 27, 1939 39 Gunfire
Tobias J. (Toby) Brown Patrolman 867 15 years August 23, 1941 45 Gunfire
Arthur A. MacDonald Patrolman 24 years March 16, 1945 48 Heart attack
Louis G. Spencer Patrolman 3 years, 2 months December 24, 1946 37 Gunfire
William J. (Jack) Lavery Lieutenant 37 years August 5, 1947 62 Electrocuted
William R. Ewing Patrolman 9 years February 7, 1953 33 Motorcycle accident
Edward V. Tierney, Jr. Patrolman 10 years July 28, 1953 41 Motorcycle accident
William H. Heagy Patrolman 14 years March 25, 1954 49 Gunfire
John G. Gillespie Patrolman 40 years January 25, 1955 66 Struck by vehicle
James R. Kelly Detective 14 years June 3, 1955 49 Heart attack
James V. Timpona Patrolman 27 years October 16, 1958 64 Struck by streetcar
Coleman R. McDonough Patrolman 405 15 years July 5, 1965 49 Gunfire
Joseph F. Gaetano Patrolman 12 years June 10, 1966 36 Gunfire
James Edward Graff Patrolman 16 years February 23, 1968 45 Heart attack
John L. Scott Patrolman 1 year, 1 month October 14, 1970 25 Gunfire (Accidental)
William J. Otis Patrolman 1 year, 1 month March 3, 1971 23 Gunfire
Patrick J. Wallace, Jr. Police Officer 5 years July 3, 1974 32 Gunfire
David A. Barr Police Officer 15 years May 3, 1983 37 Gunfire (Accidental)
Norman A. Stewart Detective 15 years September 16, 1983 51 Gunfire
James T. Blair Sergeant 20 years November 26, 1990 45 Motorcycle accident
Joseph J. Grill Police Officer 1375 25 years March 6, 1991 59 Vehicle pursuit
Thomas L. Herron Police Officer 496 22 years March 6, 1991 55 Vehicle pursuit
James H. Taylor, Jr. Sergeant 15 years September 22, 1995 42 Gunfire
Paul J. Sciullo, II Police Officer 4179 1 year, 6 months April 4, 2009 36 Gunfire
Stephen J. Mayhle Police Officer 4137 1 year, 9 months April 4, 2009 29 Gunfire
Eric G. Kelly Police Officer 3674 14 years, 3 months April 4, 2009 41 Gunfire

In popular culture

The city of Pittsburgh is well known throughout the world as having its official colors not only on everything from the official seal and flag to fire hydrants, fire trucks and police cars, but also shared by all of its pro sports teams, and more recently featured in rap/rally videos. Although the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only team to have these colors throughout their entire history (starting in 1933), the Pittsburgh Pirates (1948-present) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (1967, 1975, 1980–present) have for generations also been associated with "black and gold". However the very first team in the city's history to associate with its official seal/flag colors were the original NHL franchise Pittsburgh Pirates. The police department of Pittsburgh was instrumental in establishing the "black and gold" tradition for the regions sports teams, in that the teams owner, attorney James Callahan, asked his police officer brother for used and surplus seals and emblems from old police uniforms in 1925. From those donated "logos" the tradition of "black and gold" for the city's franchises was born.[19][20]

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



See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/pghbop/10_Police_Annual_Report.pdf
  2. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=RT0dAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lU0EAAAAIBAJ&dq=pieper&pg=1665%2C4604992
  3. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HZIcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=TGIEAAAAIBAJ&dq=safety%20director%20pittsburgh&pg=4315%2C399661
  4. 4.0 4.1 https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jYMcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mmMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2209%2C8832687
  5. 5.0 5.1 https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=spdRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=TWoDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4531%2C5156817
  6. If you wish to find out which zone you live in, you can check this list of neighborhoods or this map.
  7. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HrBRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_W0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=4187%2C4447850
  8. Pittsburgh Police
  9. 9.0 9.1 Vera Institute of Justice
  10. Citizens Police Review Board Members
  11. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/fbi-seizes-pittsburgh-police-files-675125/
  12. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/ravenstahl-controversial-police-accounts-had-hundreds-of-transactions-676002/
  13. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/fbi-irs-investigate-account-connected-to-pittsburgh-police-chiefs-office-675523/
  14. http://www.wtae.com/news/local/allegheny/Former-Pittsburgh-Police-Chief-Nate-Harper-indicted/-/10927008/19425286/-/5hx0ie/-/index.html
  15. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JrRRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Rm4DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6786%2C8067541
  16. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xYFRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mWgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3881%2C2535932
  17. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Nephin, Dan; Ramit Plushnick-Masti (April 4, 2005). "Gunman 'lying in wait' kills 3 Pittsburgh officers". The Associated Press; hosted by google.com. Retrieved 2009-04-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. http://pittsburghhockey.net/old-site/PiratesPages/PiratesLOBBY.html
  20. http://pittsburghhockey.net/old-site/PiratesPages/PiratesJersey.html
  21. http://www.post-gazette.com/columnists/19981023tony.asp
  22. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/city-swat-team-takes-first-in-one-sniper-contest-event-334787/
  23. http://www.tactical-life.com/online/news/military-channel-explores-international-sniper-competition-with-top-sniper-2/

External links