Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Is Prepared to Implement New Public Safety Plan Tonight Procedures Altered after Trump Rally

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Is Prepared to Implement New Public Safety Plan Tonight Procedures Altered after Trump Rally

Article excerpt

Two days after Pittsburgh's Department of Public Safety announced it would take a different approach to handling large-scale public events and disasters, it will use some of the new procedures at tonight's Stanley Cup Final game between the Penguins and the San Jose Sharks.

Changes to the Office of Emergency Management came under the direction of new Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich following internal reviews of the city's response to a Donald Trump rally in April that resulted in three arrests and four injured police officers.

A committee of about 15 people from the police, fire and emergency medical services departments, plus a consultant, compiled an after-action report on the rally, reviewing items such as witness statements, emails and about four hours of radio communication, Mr. Hissrich said Wednesday.

Such after-action reports will be standard now, police Chief Cameron McLay said, and they will be made public. He would not, however, go into specifics of the Trump rally report at a news conference Wednesday, saying, "We have not finished processing it internally."

Chief McLay said the predominant lesson learned concerned a breakdown of command and control.

"Police officers, regardless of our rank . . . when there starts to be an emergent threat toward the safety of other people . . . the tendency is to rush toward that scene and see what one can do to help," Chief McLay said.

Immediately after the rally, the Fraternal Order of Police president questioned why officers were not allowed to wear riot gear, thus exposing themselves to possible danger.

"We have the gear, it just wasn't allowed to be worn," Officer Bob Swartzwelder said at the time. "Some high-level person made a command decision that it wasn't going to be worn. Uniforms, your equipment, your formations, those are all command decisions. And my officers are concerned about it."

Mr. Hissrich said Wednesday that he believes command and control problems had been rectified.

"We'll find out, won't we?" Officer Swartzwelder said in response.

The police department will utilize a new crowd management team for tonight's game, Chief McLay said. …

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