Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Allegheny County explores alternative responses to nonviolent 911 calls

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Allegheny County chosen for a pilot program to develop alternate responses to 9-1-1 calls
(0:00 - 7:30)

Allegheny County has announced it’s been selected as one of four jurisdictions participating in a cohort that’s seeking to implement alternative responses to nonviolent 9-1-1 calls. The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) is leading the initiative.

The program would assist local leaders in forming a new branch of emergency response, aside from fire, police, and paramedics. The branch would focus on mental health calls and de-escalation.

“When we sit down with officers and talk to them about specific scenarios, they will look at call after call and say, ‘I shouldn't have gone to that. I shouldn't have gone to that. We should have sent a social worker’,” says Gloria Gong, executive director of GPL.

Allegheny County was chosen as a more rural testing ground, compared to the disproportionately urban jurisdictions in the cohort. During the 12 month program, the county will be coached by GPL to develop response staff, implementation plans, and community briefing materials.

Pittsburgh’s Latino Community Center is expanding services with its move to East Liberty
(7:35 - 14:16)

Earlier this month, the Latino Community Center opened its new home in East Liberty. The organization now has far more space than its previous downtown location to assist families with legal assistance and other social services.

The new 10-thousand square feet space will allow the center to hold in-person tutoring sessions and support groups, including one for new mothers. The lack of space, along with the pandemic, previously forced these services to be held virtually.

“We've had some tears,” saysRosamaria Cristello, founder and executive director of the Latino Community Center. “We've had a lot of families looking around and looking at just how big the space is, and they can envision all the programs that we've been dreaming about.”

An open house for the new center was held on Wednesday, but a second Spanish-language open house will be held on Aug. 27.

State lawmakers get automatic cost-of-living raises, but some legislation may skip this year’s raise or cancel it altogether
(14:23 - 22:30)

It’s safe to say many people have been feeling the bite of inflation. As of June, regional consumer prices were up 8.8% from last year, but legislators and other state officials will have that amount added to their salary automatically come December. With the automatic increase, the base salary for a state lawmaker could go up from a little more than $95,000 to about $103,000.

Some lawmakers have proposed bills that would skip this year’s raise, or completely abolish the automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Reporters Christina Baker and Jaxon White of Lancaster Online requested comments from all 252 state lawmakers regarding if they oppose or support the automatic raise.

“In total… 20 responded to us. The ones who did respond were basically split, 50/50 about whether they would support a bill to eliminate or suspend the COLA this year, but obviously those are not representative of the General Assembly,” says Baker.

Some who support the raises reasoned that they allow lawmakers who are not independently wealthy to serve in the legislature.

However, Baker and White say many lawmakers avoided talking about raises completely to avoid negative blowback from the public.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Recent Episodes Of The Confluence