In the wake of criticism of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau's handling of finances, city council president Darlene Harris has sponsored three bills that would lead to an overhaul of the cash management policies citywide.
Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith also introduced legislation that would compel the bureau to hire more officers when the force's staffing dipped below a specific number, yet to be set. She believes the law would ultimately trigger hiring in the bureau.
Both sets of bills were fast-tracked, meaning they will be discussed today and put up for final votes Tuesday.
The police bureau is under scrutiny following revelations of an FBI investigation that targets the personnel and finance offices, according to acting Chief Regina McDonald.
At least one check sent to the bureau for a private security detail ended up in an unauthorized account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union. The FBI last month took records from both the credit union and police finance and special events offices, in what appears to be a probe of transactions involving those offices.
Controller Michael Lamb also has criticized the bureau's special events office, which organizes private security jobs for officers, saying the accounting of the money they receive for officer wages is inaccurate and may have obscured potential theft.
In a news release, Ms. Harris, who recently entered the mayor's race, said that nearly every department in the city lacks a cash management policy. The city's finance office, which handles check and cash payments for taxes and various permitting fees, is the exception, Ms. Harris said.
The first of the three bills directs Mr. Lamb to study cash management policies in departments that receive outside revenue. The second authorizes the city to pay an outside firm up to $20,000 to study Mr. Lamb's findings and make recommendations for new policies.
Mr. Lamb said he had not seen the legislation but said his office was already studying the issue.
The final bill would formally set the surcharge paid by businesses that employ police officers on security jobs at $3.85 per officer per hour as a management fee.
Ms. Kail-Smith introduced legislation last week that would put all or part of the money handled by the special events office into a trust fund to ensure it is accounted for accurately.
Ms. Kail-Smith, the chair of the public safety committee, said she sponsored the staffing legislation because the bureau is often budgeted for far more officers than it is able to recruit, train and hire. She worries, too, that the numbers will dip even lower if several officers retire at once.
According to Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson, the city is budgeted for 892 officers and currently has 874 on the force, 29 of whom are recruits, meaning they haven't completed their training. Last year, 24 officers retired and an additional seven have done the same since January.
Moriah Balingit: email@example.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee.