Supreme Court Undermines Act 47 Coordinators’ Authority

A recently announced momentous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has severely limited the power of Act 47 to impose steps aimed at helping financially distressed municipalities return to fiscal stability.


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Still No Word on Civilians in the Police Department

As details of the proposed Fraternal Order of Police contract with the City of Pittsburgh begin to leak out, there is still no indication that the Act 47 team’s recommendation (codified as PB01) in the amended recovery plan that the City pursue a strategy of civilianization. In plain terms, civilianization is "placing civilian employees in positions held by sworn employees so the latter can be reassigned to patrol and more traditional police activities".

The recovery plan found a ratio of 13.7 sworn employees for every one civilian employee in the Pittsburgh police department. That was higher than Akron (10.5), Cleveland (4.5), Rochester (4.2), and Newark (3.1). The team characterized Pittsburgh’s ratio as "unusually high" and the International Association of Chiefs of Police backed the idea in a 2005 report.

There has been a snail’s pace at acting on the recommendation: in the 2004 Act 47 plan the team targeted 38 positions for civilianization, and only two officers have been redeployed thus far.

Obviously one has to wonder why, if civilians could perform certain functions at a lower price tag (on salary and fringe benefits) that the idea has not received more attention.