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Chris Togneri

Public Information Officer
City of Pittsburgh Public Safety Department

Chris Togneri entered the world of Public Safety in 2018 after a 20-year career in print journalism.

As PIO in Pittsburgh, Pa., he has led communications for multiple crisis situations, including the Tree of Life terrorist attack, the fatal shooting of Pittsburgh Police Officer Calvin Hall, and mass protests following the trial and acquittal of East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld.

As a journalist, he began his career in Bratislava, Slovakia, covered crime in Modesto, Calif., then spent years as a roving reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where he covered national breaking news and tragedy, including the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster, Stanton Heights Police shootings, and the Amish beard-cutting trials. He wrote and edited the award-winning Our Stories Sunday profile series, and was a national award-winning craft beer columnist.

Togneri is a native of Oakland, Calif. He earned his undergrad degree from Dana College, a small school in rural Nebraska, and his master’s degree in journalism from U.C. Berkeley. He has lived in Pittsburgh since 2007.

Chris Togneri’s Session(s):


11:00 am–11:40 am — Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Case Study: Lessons Learned at the Tree of Life

There is no playbook for a mass-fatality event such as the one experienced in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018. However, these events are becoming more common, so people and organizations must prepare for when it happens to them.

In Pittsburgh, many things went right that day, including the quick establishment of a media staging area, the clear use of a single voice information source, interagency PIO cooperation and support, media cooperation, and the protection of the injured.

Conversely, several things went wrong, including inefficient use of social media, communication among secondary PIOs, technical problems, and the overextension of high-ranking Public Safety officials.

While no playbook exists, Pittsburgh Public Safety’s PIO Office has taken steps and implemented plans to be prepared for the next event. We learned from experience. Your agency can too.


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