PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The appearance that insider knowledge was the only way to get choice after-hours assignments at local nightspots and other events, for which uniformed officers could apply, has brought federal and local scrutiny.
That’s why public safety administrators were called to Pittsburgh City Council Wednesday as council considered a bill to pay $148,000 to a North Carolina firm called, Cover Your Assets.
The firm would monitor and control police secondary employment at various events from North Carolina 24 hours a day.
When asked why a local firm wasn’t being recommended, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss said the outsider image was crucial.
“I believe that the morale sometimes has been affected with the police bureau because there’s a perception that certain people get preferential treatment when it comes to details,” said Huss. “This removes it and gets it out of state, and I believe will go a long way in helping the morale of the officers.”
Council agreed and passed the measure in a preliminary vote.
Mayoral candidate Bill Peduto though sees it as a first step.
“In between there’s a middle layer. Schedulers that hire their friends to do these details then get a little bit of the money for themselves in order to do it,” said Peduto. “Now, that has to be gone. We have to eliminate that. What this does is, it starts to get us to that.”
And City Councilman Ricky Burgess thinks it should be a step in another direction.
“If we want to have an outside vendor to bring credibility and an outside person to bring greater transparency to the process, the same thing is true for the new police chief,” said Burgess. “We need a new police chief from out of town who is not tied or has relationships with the current police department.”