Essential Pittsburgh
3:35 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Peduto Says He's Willing to Negotiate Police Residency

Credit Matt Niemi / Flickr

Pittsburgh Police negotiations are underway, and Mayor Bill Peduto said he’s willing to bargain as long as he sees reform.

In March, a labor arbitrator ruled that Pittsburgh Police are not required to live within the city. Instead, they are permitted to live within a 25 mile radius of the City County Building. But soon after, Peduto appealed the decision.

Peduto said Wednesday he would be willing to bargain if he could see three improvements to the police system in Pittsburgh.

He said he wants to reform how officers are recruited and wants a police force that reflects the city, with more diversity. He also wants to see a change in how police are promoted, saying that it should be based on merit instead of a test.

“How much is that officer involved in the community?  Are they involved in the little league system?” Peduto said. “You don’t have to live in the city to help to coach football with little kids. And that type of an officer is the one I want to see get promoted, the one that is able to be a good cop and a good community person, not necessarily where they sleep at night.”

The last change he wants to see is how officers are retained, because he feels not every officer who goes through the police academy should have their badge for life.

Union officials say some police officers have expressed interest in living within the city for more money, but Peduto said there’s really not enough funds to do that.

“Under Act 47 there’s only a certain amount of money that can be spent each year for every department, not just for police and fire, but for every department in the city,” Peduto said. “And there’s a wage freeze that’s in place for all city employees, and the mandatory reduction of five percent in incidental spending as well, I mean we’re going to be under a tight fiscal watch these next five years.”

Critics of the residency ruling claim that police who live outside of the city are not in touch with community issues and racial relations.

Peduto wants the police in Pittsburgh to improve their relationship to the community, and he believes a way to do that is by giving the officers beats to walk.

Pittsburgh police union leaders are currently at a conference and were unable to comment at this time.