Special Events Office to transfer out of Pittsburgh police headquarters
The beleaguered Pittsburgh police Special Events Office will get a new home Downtown and a makeover to prevent financial misdeeds, Public Safety Director Michael Huss said Thursday.
The office will be moved on May 31 from police headquarters in the North Side to the John P. Robin Civic Building at 200 Ross St., which houses the Bureau of Building Inspection and the Fire Bureau, Huss said.
“It gets it away from the police bureau and gets it Downtown, closer to the functions it needs, such as Finance,” Huss said.
The Special Events Office oversees off-duty details — when businesses and other organizations pay officers for security and permitted events that require city police presence, such as parades or marathons.
A federal investigation into the office's funds led to charges against former Chief Nate Harper, accusing him of diverting at least $70,628.92 from the office into secret accounts at the police credit union and using $31,986.99 to buy restaurant meals, alcohol, gift cards and other items.
In March, Huss said he planned to review the secondary employment policies of other police departments as he worked to revamp policies. He worked with an internal committee to look at New Orleans, Honolulu, San Jose and other departments.
“Many cities get it out of their departments,” Huss said. “It's got to be moved in order to have more oversight. I think it's the best move at this time.”
Acting police Chief Regina McDonald did not return a message seeking comment.
The office, which is under the police assistant chief of administration, will report to Public Safety but Huss said the Finance Department will become more involved with the office than in the past. Huss said he's working with the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 to make contract changes that would allow invoices to go out through Special Events and payments made through the Finance Department.
“You have multiple eyes on it,” Huss said. “It's a better financial way of doing things and it will eliminate the problems we had. At any point, Finance will be able to reconcile both what's been invoiced and what's been collected.”
Sgt. Michael LaPorte, president of the FOP, said he supports the move. He long argued for the office to move out of headquarters.
“We're not hired to be clerks,” LaPorte said. “We need police on the streets, not in an office.”
Two officers work in the Special Events office, but Huss said civilians would staff the new location. Critics within the FOP claimed a “detail mafia” inside the department gave selected cops a jump on the best off-duty jobs.
“I think there's a morale issue in the bureau,” Huss said. “Certain officers feel that some officers were given preferential treatment and some officers have an unfair advantage to secondary employment, and I want to eliminate that.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lure of tuition aid, gifts draw college students to ‘sugar daddy’ sites
- Long-term solution for wastewater disposal eludes shale gas industry
- ‘Line is definitely blurry,’ state police say of dating websites and prostitution
- Homestead struggles to pick up pieces left by devastating fire
- Commander: City police working to improve accountability
- UPMC to debut organ transplant surgery outside Pittsburgh
- Proposed Ross housing development revised to answer critics
- Man arrested in massive Homestead fire
- Tribune-Review photojournalist Goldband wins 1st place in national competition
- Newsmaker: Jeff Reinbold
- Jan. 31 fundraiser to aid Homestead’s recovery from fire