PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police officers will have a hard time getting new uniforms.
According to an internal memo sent to officers by the acting police chief on Wednesday and obtained by Target 11, the supply company suspended the city’s account due to unpaid invoices.
Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle questioned the mayor about it Wednesday afternoon. He deflected questions to his spokesperson.
“Talk to Maria. I’m just getting in,” the Mayor told Earle.
At the weekly police news conference last Thursday, acting Chief Tom Stangrecki was asked about the delay in uniforms. He blamed it on personnel changes in the department.
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“Until we just recently hired a new employee some invoices went unpaid,” said Stangrecki.
Target 11 also reached out to City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith. She was unaware of the unpaid invoices.
“Initially, I was shocked. You got to be kidding me,” said Smith, who immediately reached out to the public safety director.
“I’m confident after talking with him that the invoices will be paid,” said Smith.
In his memo today, acting Chief Stangrecki said the payment issue will not impact the purchase of ballistic vests. But the Police Officers’ Union said at least one officer whose vest expires this month was not approved for a new one. And another officer told Target 11 that he’s been waiting a year for a new vest after his was damaged. That officer said he’s been working without a vest.
“The city continues to violate their contractual obligations with the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) and its members in spite of a robust financial position and over 335 million dollars of American Rescue Funds ... The only conclusion is that the City and its administration does not care about the welfare of its police officers and mandatory contract obligations,” said Swartzwelder.
Council President Smith said the public safety director told her that vests are not included in the delay, but when Earle told Smith that some officers were having trouble getting vests, Smith said she would look into that again.
“It is a concern and it’s definitely one I will look further into. We want to make sure they’re safe. They put their lives on the line for us every day,” said Smith.
After we began raising questions about the bulletproof vests, the public safety director reached out to the supply company and they agreed to release any vests that may have been delayed due to unpaid invoices.
As for uniforms, they apparently won’t be provided until the city pays the bill. It’s unclear how much the city owes.
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