FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2023
PITTSBURGH – County Executive nominee Joe Rockey today received the endorsement of three unions representing 3,500 members of law enforcement in Allegheny County and highlighted his commitment to public safety by unveiling a five-point plan to bolster law enforcement and reduce crime.
“There is no question that people in Allegheny County feel less safe given the current level of crime and public disorder, particularly in Pittsburgh’s Downtown and South Side,” said Robert Swartzwelder, President of Fort Pitt FOP Lodge No. 1.
“Joe Rockey is the only candidate who has put forward a plan to confront this problem, and he is the only candidate in the race who is seen as unambiguously pro-law enforcement. Joe is the only candidate who’ll give us the tools we need to make Allegheny County safe.”
Among the police unions endorsing Rockey during a press conference at FOP headquarters in West Homestead:
- Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, representing the City of Pittsburgh’s 1,800 active and retired police officers.
- FOP Lodge 91, representing more than 100 municipal police departments in Allegheny County, comprising 1,300 active and retired law enforcement officers.
- Allegheny County Prison Employees Independent union, representing the county’s 400 correctional officers.
Union leaders said Rockey’s public safety plan could help to turn the tide against growing street crime and public disorder.
Laurie MacDonald, president and CEO of the Center for Victims, also attended the event, praising Rockey’s commitment to standing with victims of crime.
“The plight of victims is often overlooked and it’s important for them to have a voice. Joe Rockey’s plan includes our voices. It’s been a long time coming and very much needed,” MacDonald said.
Matthew Feldmeier, endorsement chairman for FOP Lodge 91, said his union’s endorsement was unanimous.
“Joe Rockey is the only candidate in the race who has been clear and unambiguous in his support for law enforcement and in having an actual plan for public safety in Allegheny County,” Feldmeier said.
Rockey, a retired business executive who has been active in charitable causes, thanked the unions for their endorsements.
“As a candidate, I am grateful for their support. As a citizen of Allegheny County, I am grateful for their work to keep us safe. And as Allegheny County executive I am fully committed to supporting the men and women who do the hard work of keeping us secure on our streets and in our homes,” Rockey said.
The Public Safety Proposal
Rockey’s plan for public safety proposes important changes in a number of areas, notably the reopening of a juvenile detention and rehabilitation center to house underage youth accused of serious crime. The county closed the former Shuman Juvenile Detention Center two years ago after it lost its state accreditation.
Rockey’s opponent in the general election, Democrat Sara Innamorato, has opposed such a center, despite incidents in which underage assailants were back on the street within hours of arrest. Those charged with serious violent crimes have been housed either at the Allegheny County Jail or lodged in centers outside the county.
Another notable departure from the status quo is Rockey’s pledge to be hands-on in dealing with continuing problems with the Allegheny County Jail and to push past the political gridlock that has overtaken the Jail Oversight Board. Chief among his pledges is one to bring the jail up to a full staffing level while expanding medical and mental health services to inmates.
Among proposals in Rockey’s plan is the addition of 20 more officers to the Allegheny County Police Force, “designated to provide support to law enforcement agencies currently overwhelmed battling criminal activity.”
Rockey also proposed a Safe Streets Task Force, joining forces with city and county police, the office of district attorney, and various other stakeholders through the county.