Target 11 Exclusive: Will there be enough police officers to staff Sunday’s Pittsburgh Marathon?

PITTSBURGH — For the first time since the pandemic, the Pittsburgh Marathon is back in person.

On Sunday morning, runners will hit the streets of Pittsburgh for the first time in three years, but law enforcement sources tell Target 11 there are growing concerns about potential police staffing shortages in light of recent retirements and resignations. And there have been no new hires in more than two years.

“They can’t meet the contractual obligations without compelling overtime. They can’t do it. They can’t meet the needs of this city in police work, because they want to have all these events, they love having events,” said Police Union President Bob Swartzwelder.

Law enforcement sources tell Target 11 that the city is still looking for 126 officers to volunteer to help close down streets and control crowds on Sunday.

If they don’t get the volunteers, less senior officers will be forced to work. But sources said they wonder if all of them will show up.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately ruled the city must pay officers who are called in on their off days at the rate of time and half for a full day, even if they work less.

A spokesperson for the city’s Public Safety Department sent an email statement to Target 11 dismissing any crew shortages.

“The marathon will be adequately staffed for security. As always, Pittsburgh Police will utilize its own officers, as well as officers from the county and universities to supplement as needed,” said spokesperson Cara Cruz.

And a spokesperson for the marathon said in a statement they are working with the city to make sure all posts are filled.

The statement goes on to say they’re also working with county and state police, local universities and college police departments and even outside security firms.

“Between all of these groups, we are confident we have enough security to keep event participants and spectators safe on race weekend,” said Kelsey Emch, a spokesperson for the Pittsburgh Marathon.

If the city does force officers with less seniority to work, sources say the big question then is will those officers show up for their shifts Sunday morning.