If there’s a fire, a natural disaster or a case of abuse, the city wants to have someone on staff to help Pittsburghers with the aftermath.
The proposed 2017 city budget includes a $52,597 ask for a new, full-time position in the Department of Public Safety: victim assistance coordinator.
The coordinator would help victims of things such as crime, abuse, domestic violence and natural disasters, as well as coordinate with area services, according to budget documents.
It’s similar to a role at the FBI, said Wendell Hissrich, director of the public safety department, during a budget hearing before Pittsburgh City Council on Thursday. Hissrich previously worked for the FBI for 25 years.
The coordinator would also provide education about “symptoms, causes, characteristics and risk factors of domestic violence and abuse,” as well as provide support services to victims and plan for their long-term safety needs. They’ll also do things like notify the Red Cross about Pittsburghers in need after a fire or other issue, something Hissrich said the fire chief does now.
Acting Police Chief Scott Schubert said after the meeting that he thinks the added role would be very helpful to the police department, as well.
After the meeting, Hissrich said there is a tentative job description and the job would be posted “as soon as the budget passes.” He told council that he doesn’t have someone in mind for the job, and once the hire is made, it’s on that person to help develop the job. The coordinator would be one of 46 full-time positions in the public safety department administration.
Council members R. Daniel Lavelle and Theresa Kail-Smith praised the added role to help victims. Kail-Smith said she hopes the coordinator will work with county departments and mental health services.
“As I learn more about public safety, there’s a whole aspect in what happens after the crime or after the abuse,” Lavelle said.
Council has until the end of the month to approve the city’s $539.4 million operating budget and $75.9 million capital budget for 2017 so it can be active for Jan. 1. (The council has until the first week of February to make changes.)
In November and December, the council has had a series of meetings regarding specific department budgets.
On Thursday, council members commented on funds for public safety, which also asked for one firefighter and two police recruit classes, as well as 20 new emergency medical technicians. Hissrich also told council negotiations are progressing for a police substation that would give officers a home base Downtown, but wouldn’t reveal the location just yet.