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County Executive Onorato Weighs In On Security Detail Costs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Mayor Luke Ravenstahl represents a city of 310,000 people and he has three full-time and one part-time officer in his security detail.

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato represents 1.2 million people, but he has only two mostly full-time people in his detail.

In two years, Ravenstahl has run up a security overtime bill larger than the entire 12 years of former Mayor Tom Murphy.

Onorato says he tries hard to minimize his security overtime.

Like Ravenstahl, Onorato also has security and he knows he needs it like when a handful of protestors attempted to disrupt his announcement for governor last year. His security detail quickly swung into action.

"Thank God, we had the detail with us," notes Onorato.

But without minimizing their importance, Onorato stresses he's careful about managing their time.

"There are three shifts and there is one person detailed to the county executive at any given shift," Onorato told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano in his first post-election TV interview.

"That's why there's very little overtime. Depending on what shift is going on, somebody's working that shift, and that's their regular hours."

Onorato has two county police detectives assigned to him, but, unlike Ravenstahl, he often is without them like whenever he travels outside the county.

"I've been overseas. No, they don't go with me. They usually do not leave the county either. I keep them in the county."

That is reflected in their overtime this year to date.

While Ravenstahl's security has billed $85,000 in overtime, Onorato's security overtime is just over $20,000.

Onorato won't comment on the mayor but had no problem talking about his own detail.

"When do you require these police officers to be with you," KDKA's Jon Delano asked him.

"Obviously, when I'm down here running around during the day, the work day at the county, and if I'm at an official event, a public event at night, where they believe you might have some risk," Onorato said.

That includes sporting events, but not always.

"A lot of times, I'll just do it on my own," says Onorato.

Onorato stresses that his two county police detectives -- when they are not on duty with him -- return to headquarters where they perform other police duties.

While Onorato is willing to talk about the cost of his security detail, Ravenstahl is not – at least not yet.

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