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St. Patrick's Day parade conflicts with Allegheny County police test

| Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, 12:02 a.m.

Pittsburgh police leaders don't want work on a particularly rowdy parade day to compete with some officers' efforts to find work elsewhere.

To that end, Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson told city officers in an email on Friday that he's asked Allegheny County officials to consider rescheduling the county police written test for employment. It's set for March 15 in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, on the same day as the St. Patrick's Day parade.

“We're trying to accommodate,” Acting Chief Regina McDonald said. “I have no idea how many people were planning to take the test.”

Police this week canceled discretionary days off for parade day, meaning officers are not allowed to take the day off if they have not requested it, McDonald said.

“Some officers have already indicated they were planning to take the test,” McDonald said. “(Donaldson) is working with the county to see about the possibility of having the test later that day or on another day.”

Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 President Mike LaPorte, a sergeant, said Donaldson's request is “indicative of the severe state of the department.” Still, he said, it was a smart move.

“I think it's completely appropriate,” LaPorte said. “He's doing what needs to be done to make sure there are enough bodies on the street. Can you imagine if half the force didn't work that day to go find work somewhere else?”

The parade day is one of several days throughout the year police will cancel discretionary days off to make sure there are enough officers working to handle calls, McDonald said.

There are about 850 officers on the force. The 2014 city budget allocates funding for 892 officers.

“It's a very busy day because of the parade,” McDonald said. “We need officers to work the parade, and then we have a lot of activity in the South Side and Station Square. We want to make sure that the zones have enough people to respond to calls.”

Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said the county is considering the request.

“We want to provide the opportunity to as many people as possible to test,” Downs said. “Having applicants be able to get into town in a timely manner is also a consideration, particularly on parade day, and so we are looking at whether another date would be possible.”

Downs said 194 people have applied to county police to take the test. County police hired three former Pittsburgh officers this year, according to a 2014 employee roster. Since 2012, at least six other former city officers have joined the county force.

The deadline to apply for a position with county police is Feb. 14.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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