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Police union seeks $50-60K staffing study

The Pittsburgh police union is asking the cash-strapped city to pay up to $60,000 for a study to determine how many officers residents need to stay safe.

In a letter to Mayor Tom Murphy and City Council, Fraternal Order of Police President Eugene Grattan said that the International Association of Chiefs of Police could “provide an accurate picture of the police patrol services required to adequately protect the citizens of Pittsburgh and its police officers.”

The letter states that the minimum staffing study by the professional organization would cost between $50,000 and $60,000, “the approximate cost of one patrol officer for one year.”

Mayoral spokesman Craig Kwiecinski said Monday he had not seen the letter, which was dated Sept. 25, and that he could not comment.

Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr. was not available yesterday.

City Councilman Tucker Sciulli said he doesn’t believe the city can afford to pay for the study.

“It’s a great idea as long as they (the union) pay for it,” he said.

City Councilman Alan Hertzberg, who has supported several FOP moves since the city announced the layoff of 102 officers in July, said he will formally introduce the request to council if asked.

“That’s appropriate right now,” said Hertzberg, who chairs council’s public safety committee. “I think we’re going to go from a safe city to a dangerous one with these layoffs. It would be good to get a qualified outside group to let us know what number makes sense.”

Grattan did not return a call for comment.

The city laid off about 85 officers last month, part of the more than 700 city workers who lost their jobs in an attempt to bridge a $40 million budget shortfall this year. The police bureau has shrunk from a budgeted level of 1,117 to about 900 officers and supervisors through layoffs and attrition.

Grattan wrote that the city has been unable to provide a minimum staffing level for the department. The chiefs association, he wrote, could determine a number if the city is agreeable to a study.


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