City council split on spending $10K to hire consultant to clean up police force



PITTSBURGH - Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle talked with Public Safety Director Mike Huss Tuesday about cleaning up the Pittsburgh Police Department.

Huss told Earle that there will be changes because he’s frustrated and embarrassed by all of the recent problems.

Huss added that he’s committed to cleaning up the police department, and that he expects more indictments.

Huss wouldn’t elaborate, but he told Earle he doesn’t plan on removing acting Chief Regina McDonald despite concerns that she was too close to the off-duty detail office that was raided by the FBI last month.

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith told Earle that she agrees with Huss’s plan to clean up the department.

“It’s also an opportunity for us to look at the policies and some of the things in place -- how are we receiving funds and how we can correct some things so they’re not reoccurring,” Kail-Smith said.

In an effort to do that, councilman Ricky Burgess introduced legislation authorizing the mayor to spend up to $10,000 to hire former Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani to review policies for off-duty police details after complaint that some officers received special treatment.

“We want to make sure it’s done in a transparent, fair and equitable manner. If the mayor believes a consultant can do that, I will certainly work with them to do that,” Burgess said.

Kail-Smith questioned the cost of Toprani.

“Huss has been working on a lot of these things, so why can’t they come up with a plan? We don’t know that they haven’t. So I think we have to have some thorough discussions. It’s only $10,000 but every dollar counts when it’s public dollars,” Kail-Smith said.

City council will likely vote on spending the money sometime next week, and there will likely be a spirited debate.