December 15, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Dolly Prabhu, Abolitionist Law Center, firstname.lastname@example.org
PITTSBURGH – The Abolitionist Law Center has published a report on policing in Pittsburgh, highlighting glaring racial disparities in traffic stops, frisks, warrantless search and seizures, arrests, and use of force by the City’s police force.
The report notes that in 2019, Black people made up only 23.2% of the Pittsburgh population, and yet they made up 43.6% of individuals involved in traffic stops, 71.4% of all frisks, 69% of individuals subject to warrantless search and seizures, and 63% of all arrests conducted by the Pittsburgh Police. When it comes to children, the disparities were even more vast: Black children accounted for 83% of all warrantless search and seizures of individuals ages 11-18 and 100% of all warrantless search and seizures of children ages 10 and under.
Despite these troubling numbers, Mayor Bill Peduto has increased the Police Budget 60% since taking office in 2014, from $72 million to $115 million. It now enconpasses nearly one fifth of the City’s entire operating budget. Furthermore, the year-to-year rate of increase of the police budget went up from an average of 0.75% from 2000-2014 to 8.18% from 2015-2020 under Mayor Peduto, even though violent crime levels in Pittsburgh have been steadily decreasing since the early 1990s.
The report also stated that the peacekeeping role of police was exaggerated, and noted that only 6% of all crimes reported to the Pittsburgh Police in 2019 were violent crimes, while the vast majority of crimes reported were minor infractions like disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, and vandalism. Even in response to violent crime, police had a very low clearance rate, especially when victims were Black.
The report concludes by condemning the City’s continued adherence to unproductive and misleading reform measures to address police brutality against Black residents: “Trotting out these tired, ineffective solutions in place of defunding is not a noble step towards change, but a manipulative attempt to feign compliance with activists’ demands while continuing to support police,” says Dolly Prabhu, staff attorney at the Abolitionist Law Center.
Instead, the report calls for an immediate $40 million cut to the City’s police budget, which would return it to just a little over what it was when Bill Peduto took office in 2014. It further demands that these funds are redirected into necessary social services, including education, housing, and health care—measures that would reduce crime more effectively than continuing to increase police funding.