Former Washington Co. DA to review Pittsburgh police rules on outside work

Updated:

PITTSBURGH —

Steven Toprani, a former Washington County district attorney, will review the Pittsburgh Police Department's policies and procedures covering officers who hold other jobs or own businesses not regulated by the department.

Mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said Toprani will begin work immediately.

Last week FBI agents took records from police headquarters in the North Side relating to secondary employment, training and travel from the special events, personnel and finance offices.

City Solicitor Dan Regan said the seizure came from a grand jury subpoena.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Police Chief Nate Harper of Stanton Heights was involved in awarding a contract to a shell company set up by his one-time friend Art Bedway, 63, of Robinson.

The special-events office oversees officers who provide off-duty security to businesses. Businesses pay the officers, who work armed and in uniform, plus a fee to the city. A police official said wages and the fees total about $7 million annually.

Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson has said the FBI is investigating the use of that money.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Controller Michael Lamb and City Council Budget Director Bill Urbanic have been unable to explain how the Police Department documents and tracks payments from administrative fees, which average about $700,000 annually. Those fees don't appear as a separate revenue line in the city's annual budget.

"Our goal is to implement clear-cut policies that reform if, how and when officers can conduct other work or business outside of their capacities as officers. We must ensure that the primary focus of every officer is keeping our neighborhoods safe," Ravenstahl said in a prepared statement. "As a highly respected former district attorney, Mr. Toprani has conducted numerous internal investigations and understands not only the letter of the law, but best practices when it comes to implementing measures to improve transparency and accountability."

Toprani currently serves as counsel with Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl. Prior to serving as district attorney, Toprani worked in private practice and served as assistant counsel in Gov. Edward G. Rendell's Office of General Counsel, where he aided the state Department of Public Welfare.

 

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.