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Fatal Disconnect: Lessons in Community Policy Development From the Response to the Murder of Ka'Sandra Wade--A Case Study

DeAngelo, Gina (2013) Fatal Disconnect: Lessons in Community Policy Development From the Response to the Murder of Ka'Sandra Wade--A Case Study. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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In January of 2013, Pittsburgh, PA was shaken by the circumstances surrounding the murder of Ka’Sandra Wade. Her call to 911 had been disconnected, and although officers responded to it, they left the scene without seeking her after being turned away by a man at her window. She was found dead the next day. Public outcry and investigations into police conduct and procedures for 911 disconnect calls followed. The fact that Wade was Black and that the incident had occurred in a low-income area of Pittsburgh troubled many. Reporters pointed to a similar 1988 incident in Pittsburgh involving a 911-disconnect, police negligence, and an assault. After the Wade case broke, women’s groups, community watchdog organizations, and legislators all pushed for policy change. Ultimately, however, citizen groups felt their concerns were not addressed by the public policy response, and the departmental police policy changes that were adopted did not satisfy the parties involved. The public health relevance of the issue is rooted in two factors. First, despite being framed as a women’s issue related to hostage and abuse situations, the problem of police response to 911 is a concern for all citizens, as disconnects could happen to anyone due to accidents, panic, or medical emergencies. Second, these two incidents both occurred in low-income areas. In order to protect the safety of all residents, it is important that effective policy be developed to standardize responses to 911 disconnects. The incident was summarized using available media, including newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, and videos of Citizen Police Review Board meetings. To investigate the disappointing policy response, the process by which the policies were constructed is analyzed against the standard methods of policy formation. It is shown that roadblocks existed within the political circumstances of the issue, which negatively affected both the identification of the problem at hand and the generation of relevant solutions, thus preventing the development of satisfactory policy. An action plan is then proposed, which advocates for coalition building and the use of focus groups as a means for the community to impact future policy development in this area.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
DeAngelo, Gina
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBarron, Geraldgbarron@pitt.eduGBARRONUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberTerry, Martha Annmaterry@pitt.eduMATERRYUNSPECIFIED
Date: December 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: December 2013
Submission Date: 21 November 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Health Policy & Management
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Qualitative, Research
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2014 21:28
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2022 10:56


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