Federal Intervention in Local Policing: Pittsburgh's Experience with a Consent Decree   [open pdf - 588KB]

From the Introduction: "When something goes seriously wrong in one of the nation's nearly 18,000 local police agencies, usually it is local officials who are responsible for fixing the problem. But when the local political process cannot resolve problems of police misconduct, the federal courts and the U. S. Department of Justice have a variety of powers that allow them to intervene. [...] Lessons learned from the early experiences of federal monitoring of local police agencies can offer other jurisdictions models of how to work efficiently with their monitors or help them understand how to bring about police reform without federal intervention. The first place to look for those lessons is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [...] The first suit under the 1994 law was filed in Pittsburgh in 1997, and Pittsburgh is the first city to have entered into a consent decree and have the decree lifted from its Bureau of Police. Many people in Pittsburgh were concerned about whether the procedures implemented during the decree would be followed as rigorously once most provisions of the decree were lifted. This is a critical issue for the Justice Department's use of pattern or practice suits as a method of encouraging reform in police agencies; it is therefore important to examine the effects of monitoring during and after federal intervention in Pittsburgh. This report is derived from two extensive research reports developed by the Vera Institute of Justice and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services."

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Office of Community Oriented Policing Services: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/
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