It's Still a Shame: Police HQ trouble

January 14, 2010 8:55:17 PM PST
We call our report "It's a Shame" because of the deplorable state of Philadelphia police facilities, including the headquarters.

The scene outside Philadelphia's police headquarters Thursday morning showed water spewing from aging, crumbling pipes that run beneath the equally aging and crumbling building.

In the middle of the night, the main water supply pipe gave way, flooding the basement, forcing an evacuation of inmates and requiring police to be bussed elsewhere to use bathrooms that worked. Later in the day, the issue was thought resolved, but happened again.

"We made do in a tough situation," Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Gaittens.

But as the water formed pools on the sidewalk, questions once again turned to a pool far more mysterious. This pool was the money set aside to make long needed repairs, most of which, as Action News first found, was never spent.

Now, more than two months later, the problems inside the police buildings are literally spilling over. We found the money, millions and millions of dollars, is still sitting untouched.

"You can't wait to defer the maintenance down the road. And that's what happens. The more you defer it, the worse it gets, and then when you fix the problem, the more it costs," Councilman-at-Large James Kenney said.

In December of 2006, City Council passed a bill authorizing $30-million to be set aside, $10-million specifically for repair of police facilities. It became law in January of 2007.

The city comptroller, though, says none of that money, not so much as a dime, was ever spent.

And that's not all. In the mid 1990's, the city's Financial Oversight Authority authorized $13.5-million for the same purpose.

Of that, though a specific amount is unavailable, sources believe just $500,000 has been spent. Just $500,000 of a total $23.5-million already set aside, and no one, not the mayor's office, not City Council, seems to have an answer why more hasn't been spent or when, if at all, it might be.

Action News did contact the mayor's office, who say they are looking into the money and why it remains unspent. In the meantime, proposals to move police headquarters are being examined, as are plans to repair or overhaul some facilities. But so far, no plans are in place.