Police arrests dropped 60% in Pittsburgh, following nationwide trend

By Elyse Apel | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Pittsburgh has a 60% 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% decrease. Calls for services decreased from 230,497 in 2013 to 218,881 in 2021, a 5% 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%, 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%, to $349 million. Of that, police department expenses rose from $71 million in 2013 to $116 million in 2021 – a 63% 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.

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