11 Investigates: Mayor reacts to dramatic drop in overnight Pittsburgh police patrols

PITTSBURGH — The number of patrol officers working Monday and Tuesday night this week was actually much lower than 11 Investigates had anticipated.

But Mayor Ed Gainey said he’s standing by his Police Chief’s decision to make deep cuts to the overnight shift.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, 11 Investigates learned that no police officers were patrolling in Zone One on the North Side, or in Zone Three on the South Side.

The only two officers on duty were sent to the hospital to guard a prisoner.

So, at that time, only 14 officers in seven patrol cars covered the entire city.

Under the previous plan, anywhere from 40 to 60 officers in one-man cars would cover the city overnight.

We wanted to ask Mayor Ed Gainey about the surprising numbers but his staff tried to stop us.

Mayor staff member: Rick that’s not the process. Rick that’s not the process.

Gainey: Let him go, let him go.

Earle: 14 officers in two-man cars covering the city Monday night. Is that enough?

Gainey: The data speaks for itself, Rick. I think, you know, when you ask these questions to the chief, the chief said the data speaks that and he believes in the data and I have no reason to question that.

So, with as few as eight two-man cars to patrol the entire city during certain overnight hours, officers no longer answer calls just in their zones.

They could be sent anywhere in the city, and some officers tell 11 Investigates that will increase response times and jeopardize safety.

The chief said last week, when announcing the changes that the reduced call volume between 2:30 am and 7 a.m. didn’t support the number of officers working that shift.

Earle: Where you had 40 cars before, if you have a shooting in the East Hills, and officers in Brookline, if somebody gets shot, they’re going to bleed out?

Gainey: Yeah, but Rick, “if” is a small word, with a big meaning, so we are not going to plan with what could happen, we could end up having. “If” means a lot of things, but I’ve been sharing with you and I will continue to share with you that this chief has made some phenomenal decisions that have operationalized in a way that has kept this city safe.

According to my sources, more officers will be on the overnight shifts Wednesday through Saturday.

But with sick calls and vacations, the numbers could still be challenging.

Still, the mayor told Earle he has complete confidence in the data-driven approach used by the chief.

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