It's Still a Shame: Audit issued on police HQ

June 2, 2010 3:59:38 PM PDT
As Action News first reported last night, an explosive audit from the city comptroller has unleashed another round of finger pointing in city government with police officers caught in the middle.

Why? For those who will say on camera, the answer is cost.

"How does the cost or financial hardship become a justification to place lives in jeopardy?" City Controller (D) Alan Butkovitz said.

In an audit released this afternoon, but first reported by Action News last night, city auditors detailed deteriorating conditions that "remain virtually similar to those found in 2006" at Philadelphia Police Headquarters. It is hard evidence of a health and safety crisis ignored.

"We have buildings that are deplorable, they are unfit for human occupation, it's a disgrace and in any other business, if it was any other league, or store, it'd be shut down," Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby said.

In fact, they could be. Following our investigation last November, showing mold and bug infestations, and crumbling police buildings, we've learned License and Inspection conducted its own investigation, citing the city for 29 fire code violations in just one building - police headquarters.

Despite a 30 day deadline to fix them, city officials acknowledge, several have yet to be addressed. The size of the job and the sheer cost, they say is too cumbersome to fix quickly.

"If it were an acceptable excuse to say I don't have the money so I'm not going to fix it, everybody in the city would say that. I mean, how it is any different?" Butkovitz said.

The controller's audit suggests the use of some $4-million Action News found specifically set aside for just such repairs. We wanted to ask Mayor Michael Nutter about that money, but his office has declined our requests for an interview, citing scheduling issues.

As to why these problem have been allowed to linger for so long, one deputy mayor we spoke with admits, it never should have happened, and yet it continues.