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 For Immediate Release—September 6, 2002


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) released a report today entitled  Turning Necessity into Virtue: Pittsburgh's Experience with a Federal Consent Decree. COPS funded this report to document the five years that the Pittsburgh Police Bureau spent under a federal consent decree.

This report illustrates the ways in which the Pittsburgh Police Bureau addressed the causes of the consent decree, beginning with the effective use of an implementation committee and the inclusion of community groups early in the reform process. The study also focuses special attention on an innovative "early warning system" that identifies officers in need of corrective supervision, as well as those deserving special praise. These experiences provide a helpful case study for other law enforcement agencies. Pittsburgh's responses to the problems it faced proved effective and replicable. The report contains sections addressed specifically to the needs of other agencies, including Lessons Learned, What Other Cities Can Learn From Pittsburgh's Experience, and What Might Have Been Improved on in Pittsburgh.

"Turning Necessity into Virtue documents how the Pittsburgh Police Bureau worked through its consent decree," said COPS Director Carl R. Peed. "This comprehensive report helps illustrate a law enforcement agency's transformation while being monitored under a federally imposed consent decree. It will prove very helpful to other law enforcement agencies, whether those agencies are trying to address similar issues or prevent them entirely."

The Vera Institute of Justice compiled the report by conducting a series of structured interviews with law enforcement and local government executives, other law enforcement professionals, community activists, and 400 residents. Researchers conducted all of these interviews during the final year of the consent decree.