Update on Pittsburgh’s Domestic Violence Policies | Joanne Tosti-Vasey Blogging for Equality

Update on Pittsburgh’s Domestic Violence Policies | Joanne Tosti-Vasey Blogging for Equality.

Last week I wrote a blog about an attempt by Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess  to backtrack on the city’s domestic violence policies.

There has been a week of outrage among advocates for the back-handed attempt to eliminate the police-perpetrated domestic violence ordinance that was created in 2007.

Yesterday, three people, including former City Council President Douglas Shields and my friend Audrey Glickman (both of whom were quoted in last Friday’s blog), spoke out in committee to not backtrack.  Then today, advocates came out in mass to oppose both the commingling of police-perpetrated domestic violence and police response to domestic violence in the community.

Most of the advocates who spoke were given three minutes to express their concerns. Jeanne Clark (candidate for Pittsburgh City Council, long-time NOW member and a women’s rights advocate), Shirl Regan (Executive Director of Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh), Beth Pittinger (Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board), and Maryellen Deckert (Western Regional Director of Action United, a membership organization of low and moderate income Pennsylvanians that employedKa’Sandra Wade before her death) were given seats at the Council table to discuss the issues in more depth.

As part of her presentation, Jeanne Clark presented a petition calling for a post-agenda hearing to ensure that the proposed ordinances adequately address police and 911 response to potential domestic violence calls from the community.

Following the concerns raised about domestic violence and with Jeanne’s call for a public hearing, Pittsburgh City Council quashed the attempt to eliminate the police-perpetrated domestic violence ordinance.  They placed a hold on the proposed Domestic Violence Task Force ordinance until after a post-agenda hearing is held.  And they passed theresolution that allows funds to be expended to start the Maryland Lethality Assessment Training program.  Here’s a news article on what happened, along with some quotes.

After the Council met and voted down Burgess’ proposal to eliminate the zero-tolerance policy, Councilman Bill Peduto sent me the following email:

Joanne –

I wanted to let you know that Councilwoman [Natalia] Rudiak, Councilman [Bruce] Kraus and I were able to lobby Council to successfully pass the Police-response DV bills today while stopping the amendments offered by Reverend Burgess that would have weakened the Police-perpetrated DV legislation we worked so hard on back in 2007.

It is unfortunate that politics entered into this debate at all but I am thankful for the many women and men who wrote in to Council and came to Council Chambers today.  With your help we were able to stop the games and pass this important legislation to protect victims of domestic violence.  Thank you.

A final decision on the Domestic Violence Task Force on the  will occur only after the post-agenda hearing and public hearing are held.

Thanks all for all of your work