City of Pittsburgh leaders work to fix staffing shortage, other concerns with police union

PITTSBURGH — City of Pittsburgh leaders met with the police union Tuesday to discuss how to fix police staffing shortages and other concerns in the community.

“Thankfully this administration did put a recruitment class on, but unfortunately they won’t be ready until 2025 probably before we get them out on the street and in that time, we believe we will lose another 132 officers at the very least,” said Councilman Anthony Coghill of Pittsburgh City Council.

Combine that issue with the already more than 100 officers the department has lost in the last two years, and Coghill is looking for a solution.

When Coghill brought city council to the table with the union and city administration, the problem came down to one thing: money.

“You can’t have a pension below the poverty rate and say, yes this is where I want to be,” said Joe Nicholas who’s the FOP No. 1 vice president.

In fact, the union said on average officers have received a raise of less than 70 cents an hour every year for the last nearly two decades.

“Nobody wants to leave the Pittsburgh police department. These young kids don’t want to go, and they aren’t happy except they get a lot more money to be where they are at,” Nicholas said.

But it’s not a simple fix. While council looks at options to be more competitive with pay, it’s also looking at bringing in other departments to help — especially when it comes to downtown violence, but nothing official was confirmed from the county.

“At least because of the problems we are having downtown we have businesses moving out, you know, we need reinforcements, we need downtown to be safe and secure, we need people who own businesses and their clients and customers to know they are safe,” Coghill said.

Another topic brought up was the lack of a police chief and someone wanting to join the department as they search for officers. The city administration said they are nearing the end and are hopeful to have someone hired in the coming months.

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