The U.S. Justice Department and the city of Pittsburgh have asked a court to end federal oversight imposed on the Pittsburgh police force under a 1997 consent decree, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Most of the decree was lifted by a federal judge in 2002, but it remained on the Office of Municipal Investigations, which still had a backlog of misconduct cases to investigate.
The city signed the decree after Justice Department attorneys said they could prove a “pattern and practice” of police misconduct. The city denied those allegations and still does. Court-appointed auditor James Ginger said the Pittsburgh Police Bureau is now a model for U.S. law enforcement. He said the Police Bureau has gone beyond the guidelines of the decree and “more than met” the mandates established in handling internal investigations. Witold Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union, which was among 17 groups that opposed lifting the decree in 2002, said the results of OMI investigations must be made public. “They need to say how many officers in a quarter are being disciplined and the severity of the discipline,” he said. “That will give the public a barometer on whether the department is backsliding.”