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Identity & Community

Despite 'Gaffes,' City To Renew Contract For Outsourcing Of Secondary Police Employment

It’s been a year since the city of Pittsburgh took the responsibility of scheduling secondary police details, like working security at community festivals, out of the hands of the Bureau of Police and gave it to North Carolina-based Cover Your Assets, LLC.

Despite what Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar called “some gaffes” in scheduling, City Council Wednesday gave preliminary approval to renewal of that contract for another year.

Bucar said there were instances when events that were supposed to be staffed were not, but he didn’t place blame for those problems on the company, saying it was due to lapses in communication and lack of proper protocol.

“Quite often we became aware of the events being unstaffed right when the events started, and that was a problem, so we put some processes … and personnel in place to manage that,” Bucar said.

City Councilman Dan Gilman said some of the problems with the new scheduling procedures eroded his confidence in the system, and that had the bill come up in January, he would have voted against it.

“There … have been examples in my district where someone paid ahead of time for 10 and only six officers came, and they were struggling to get the money back for the four officers they paid for that they never received,” Gilman said.

Finance Director Paul Leger said not only would CYA issue refunds, but they would also handle the entire billing process from start to finish. Currently up to a $1 million is owed to the city for secondary employment of police officers. Leger said some of that money might never be recovered, because businesses have closed and people have moved or are simply unresponsive to repeated invoices.

Leger said moving forward, businesses and organizations that do not pay on time will be penalized.

“Part of this process is that CYA can manage that system so that nobody gets a second event unless they’ve paid for the last one,” Leger said.

City Council President Bruce Kraus said he had several reservations about the CYA contract ahead of Tuesday’s Council Committee meeting, but that they were assuaged by information he received from Leger and Bucar.

One of his primary concerns was the cost of the year-long contract: $175,000.

“This is not a cost to taxpayers,” Kraus said. “This is not coming out of our operating budget, but rather this is being funded by the $4/ hour fee that is charged to people who hire secondary detail officers.”

City Council Budget Director Bill Urbanic said roughly $10 million passes through the Secondary Employment Trust Fund each year. He said about 90 percent of that goes to officers for their work, while the rest covers the cost of the CYA contract, administrative costs, and legal fees arising from lawsuits.