PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Clarence Gunter is a sergeant in the Rankin Police Department, a job he says he was born to do.
Gunter: “It’s exciting. I wake every day, get dressed and come to work.”
KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan: “Even though there’s no money in it?”
Gunter: “Even though there’s no money in it.”
Like the rest of the department, Gunter works part-time, making less than $12 an hour, so he also works as an officer in Braddock, putting in a total of 64 hours a week just to make ends meet.
“It’s a calling. Something I love to do, ever since I was child,” Gunter said.
In the past few years, a bill to increase police pay in these towns and provide additional training has stalled in the legislature. But since the shooting death of Antwon Rose by East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, there’s new focus on these undermanned, underpaid departments.
This week, a group of elected officials, community leader and law enforcement committed to addressing their needs.
“To be able to bring in funds so that training can take place in some of these small boroughs and townships,” said Tim Stevens of the Black Political Empowerment Project. “Let’s be honest, in some of these small townships and boroughs, there may be one [full-time] officer and part-time officers and little funds for real training.”
In Rankin, Police Chief Ryan Wooten is the only full-time officer and says his officers are not here for the pay.
“You know, they put their lives on the line every day for very little money,” he said.
Wooten says money is also not there to provide them anything more than the minimum training required by the state.
“The better the training of these police officers, everywhere, the better off everyone is going to be,” he said.