Sparked in the riots of the sixties and smoldering through the nineties, Pittsburgh endured tremendous social, economic, and cultural commotion.
In 1976, a Home Rule form of government was adopted by the people; in the 1980s, the steel mills declined to extinction while the Renaissance campaigns sought to revitalize commerce; the population declined as the hard-working blue-collar workforce was displaced.
Swirling from the ashes of social turbulence in the mid-nineties were indicators of seriously strained relations between citizens and their police:
- A history of suspicious deaths and police abuse, though not exclusively affecting the African American community, the incidence was notably suspicious.
- Increasing number of lawsuits and liabilities accruing to the city as a result of unlawful police conduct.
- Public distrust of internally conducted investigations of police conduct.
- Public perception of disciplinary leniency in the Bureau of Police.
- Absence of professional standardization in expected conduct and procedural protocols against which questionable conduct could be measured.
A dearth of efforts to reform police conduct gave way to an unprecedented flurry of activism from the U.S. Congress, the Federal Courts, and the Council of the City of Pittsburgh.