Con­sol­i­da­tion is over­due

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Business -

A pro­posal to con­sol­i­date four po­lice de­part­ments in the east­ern sub­urbs of Pitts­burgh should have the sup­port of ev­ery cit­i­zen who is con­cerned about the qual­ity of polic­ing in the re­gion.

An in- depth anal­y­sis by the Pitts­burgh Post- Gazette, pub­lished nearly two years ago, re­vealed ex­treme in­equal­ity in the re­sources and staffing of the 109 po­lice de­part­ments in Al­legheny County. Some of­fi­cers were full time and brought home salaries of $ 71,000, while many were part time and earned as lit­tle as $ 10 per hour. The smaller and poorer com­mu­ni­ties, which might have the great­est need for po­lice pro­tec­tion, of­ten had in­ad­e­quate staffing and poorly trained of­fi­cers.

More­over, due to low pay, turnover of of­fi­cers in small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties is a con­stant prob­lem.

Now, four mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the Mon Val­ley — Brad­dock, East Pitts­burgh, North Brad­dock, and Rankin — are con­sid­er­ing com­bin­ing their de­part­ments. The four cur­rently have only two full- time of­fi­cers among them; they also em­ploy 31 part- time of­fi­cers. A com­bined depart­ment could have 12 full- timers plus six part- time of­fi­cers, hope­fully re­sult­ing in greater pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

This pro­posal has been de­vel­op­ing grad­u­ally over two years. In spring 2019, the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, which then in­cluded the tiny bor­ough of Whi­taker, asked the state to con­duct a fea­si­bil­ity study. Now the study is com­plete, and bor­ough of­fi­cials have had plenty of time to con­sider this is­sue.

All four town coun­cils must ap­prove a res­o­lu­tion to move for­ward with the process. Thus far, two of the coun­cils have ap­proved, but Brad­dock and North Brad­dock have not taken ac­tion. Brad­dock’s coun­cil will vote next month.

Al­legheny County is no­to­ri­ous for the large num­ber of gov­ern­men­tal en­ti­ties within its bor­ders and the in­ef­fi­ciency that they create. But worse than in­ef­fi­ciency is polic­ing by in­di­vid­u­als who are not prop­erly trained and pre­pared. It puts both po­lice of­fi­cers and civil­ians at risk.

Af­ter a long and thought­ful process of con­sid­er­ing it, the four mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should ap­prove this con­sol­i­da­tion as a ra­tio­nal and hu­mane re­form.

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