Police Arrests Dropped 60 Percent in Pittsburgh, Following Nationwide Trend

Police Arrests Dropped 60 Percent in Pittsburgh, Following Nationwide Trend
Police rapid response team members respond to the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
The Center Square

Pittsburgh has a 60 percent decrease in arrests over the past eight years, following similar trends in many major cities across the country.

From 2013 to 2021, the number of arrests made by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police dropped from 18,541 to 7,405. The latest audited report from the city provides data back to 2013.

The drop in arrests in Pittsburgh, unlike other cities with significant drops in arrests, was most noticeable in 2020 and 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, city crime stats from 2015 to 2021 show that “violence trends”—shootings, murders and assaults—have been on par with pre-pandemic years.

Traffic stops and calls for services have also dropped over that period. Traffic stops in 2013 were 28,894 and declined to 10,243 in 2021. That is a 65 percent decrease. Calls for services decreased from 230,497 in 2013 to 218,881 in 2021, a 5 percent decline.

Though arrests and traffic stops have declined, the number of full-time police officers in the city has remained flat. In 2013, there were 1,092 police officers, while in 2021 that number had only dropped 2.7 percent, to 1,062.

Expenses for public safety in the city, which includes police, fire, EMS, animal control, and administration, has significantly increased every year from 2013 to 2021.

In 2013, $258 million was spent on public safety in Pittsburgh. By 2021, that rose 35.3 percent, to $349 million. Of that, police department expenses rose from $71 million in 2013 to $116 million in 2021—a 63 percent rise.

The Center Square reached out to the police department and the mayor’s office for a response about the drop in arrests and received no immediate response.

By Elyse Apel
The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. www.thecentersquare.com