Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto came to Allentown last week to announce the city would be making new hires in the public safety bureaus: police, fire, paramedics and building inspection.
Speaking in the Zone 3 Police Station, Mr. Peduto said he would like to bring the police department up to the 892 officers it is budgeted for this year. There are currently 826 officers on the force and 26 cadets in the academy doing in-field training.
He said he in addition to a class starting at the police academy in March, the he would like to see another one in the fall and possibly a third one. Mr. Peduto said the goal was to not only get the police force up to 900 officers, but to keep it at that number as officers leave the force for retirement.
He would like a new class of firefighters to start also. Adding it wasn’t just an issue of how much was being spent on overtime in the Fire Bureau, but also that they don’t want the firefighters burning out or responding to emergencies when they were tired.
Public Safety Director Michael Huss said there are currently 614 firefighters with 53 vacancies in the Fire Bureau.
Another area Mr. Peduto would like to see fully staffed is with the emergency medical services. The mayor plans to hire eight more paramedics to fill out their ranks.
“A lot of economic development projects are being put on hold or being delayed as people wait for an inspector to be able to do the work,” he continued. “This has a direct effect on not only our public safety, but our economic development.”
To remedy the situation, he plans to hire five more building inspectors.
Mr. Peduto said there would be an additional cost to the new personnel, but that cost is already covered in the budget.
“With each of these bureaus, what we are trying to do now is to get these candidates through training in order to join the ranks as soon as possible,” he said.
Mr. Huss said they will be utilizing current Civil Service lists to fill the positions for the police and fire bureaus. Generally speaking, they have several hundred people on the Civil Service lists at any time.
“We’re constantly recruiting new paramedics,” he added. “I urge anyone who has an interest and is looking for a wonderful career, that’s a great option to be a paramedic. To be hired here, you have to have the training, but it’s a great opportunity to enter our public safety force.”
As far as adding minorities and women to the public safety bureaus, Director Huss said, “diversity is always something we want to see on our public safety force. We’re going to try to make it as diverse as we can.”
“The goal is to not only to recruit minority and female candidates in the police and fire, but also to recruit Pittsburghers. And what we’re going to start to look at is training academies that will start back in high school,” Mr. Peduto added.
Students who have an interest in public safety will then have an opportunity to gain the 60 credits they need to go into the academy to become police officers and firefighters.
“Then we’re not only recruiting minorities and female officers into our ranks, we’re recruiting residents of Beltzhoover, we’re recruiting residents of Homewood and the Hill to become part of the force as well,” Mr. Peduto added.