Office of Mayor William Peduto
Upgrades at City Law Department and Office of Municipal Investigations Showing Success
Statistics show both lawsuits against City and complaints about police decreasing

Update: The original report included in this release had inaccurate information on Slide 17. Slide 17 has been updated with accurate information.

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 23, 2016) Lawsuits filed against the City of Pittsburgh decreased by 50% the last two years, and the total number of complaints filed against City police decreased 43% in the same time period, according to statistics presented today by City Solicitor Lourdes Sanchez Ridge and the Office of Municipal Investigations Director Deborah Walker.

Two years ago Mayor William Peduto hired Sanchez-Ridge, a former federal prosecutor, to make changes to the Law Department. One such change was moving OMI out of the Public Safety Department and into Law, to prevent conflicts of interest. He also picked Walker -- a former chair of the Citizen Police Review Board and Pitt police officer -- to lead OMI.

The Law Department has trained all City departments in different topics such as ethics, employment law, tort litigation, contracts and civil rights. It is continuing its Learn the Law seminars this year, which teach different legal topics to City employees so that they understand how to comply with the law and prevent lawsuits.

The work by Law from led to the following upgrades:

A 225% increase in legal opinions issued to the Mayor’s Office, City Council and City Departments. Law has created legal teams who meet with department directors monthly to render legal advice

  • A 50.5% decrease in lawsuits filed against the City since 2013.
  • A 44% decrease in 2015 in legal claims filed against the City.
  • A major decrease in processing times for legal claims: before 2015, claims took four months to process, but now the processing time is down to 30-45 days in most circumstances.
  • A 25% increase in 2015 in contracts executed from 2012 to 2015.
  • An 95% increase in Right To Know requests processed in 2015 over 2012.

At the Office of Municipal Investigations, Walker has made changes including:

Increased training for staff. Investigators completed training in Pittsburgh, Ohio, Texas, and South Carolina. Training included interview and interrogation techniques and internal affairs. This resulted in investigators improving their report writing and investigative skills.

The office appointed an Operation Manager certified in internal affairs investigations; increased participation at community events; purchased tablets for investigators to access forms while canvassing neighborhoods during background checks; and moved the agency from the Strip District to the City-County Building to increase access for residents and workers.

OMI statistics show:

  • The total number of complaints lodged with OMI about police has dropped from 337 in 2013 to 191 in 2015, a decrease of 43%.
  • The total number of all allegations are down in every category: Conduct Toward the Public, Conduct Unbecoming an Employee; Neglect of Duty; and Use of Force.
  • Conduct Unbecoming complaints regularly top all complaint categories, and made up 70% of the complaints in 2015.

A copy of a Power Point presentation on the Law/OMI changes over the past two years is available here.

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