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Friday, October 19, 2007

[PA] Still pressing for a REAL cop dv policy in Pittsburgh

Women push city on domestic violence policy
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, PA
By Jeremy Boren
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Women's groups protesting domestic violence within the Pittsburgh police bureau urged City Council to go further with a proposed ordinance that could prohibit police officers accused of domestic violence from being hired and winning promotions. A public hearing today drew about 30 women -- representing various women and anti-violence groups -- who urged council members to strengthen a proposed domestic violence policy based on one from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The ordinance is set for a preliminary vote Wednesday. Jeanne Clark, a member of the National Organization for Women in Squirrel Hill, accused Mayor Luke Ravenstahl of moving too slowly to pass rules to punish police accused of abuse...
Clark and representatives from the National Council of Jewish Women and Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh said City Council's new rules should be amended to:
- Prevent police officers facing court-sanctioned protection from abuse orders from being promoted;
- Require police officers being investigated for domestic abuse to give up their city-issued firearms;
- Ensure internal investigations of officers accused of abuse are performed independently, perhaps by the Allegheny County District Attorney's office.
..."The first time a flap came along, you immediately challenge his ability to lead by turning this into a police bashing," [President of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge. No. 1, Jim ] Malloy said.
"The Fraternal Order of Police does not want City Council stepping in making a value judgment on whether an officer had a domestic (incident) outside the city and properly turned that information over to the chief of police"
... A final vote on the City Council proposal could happen Oct. 30...

Police Chief Asked To Detail Domestic Abuse Policy
Alison Morris
Oct 18, 2007
Representatives from local women’s groups are imploring Pittsburgh City Council to pass an ordinance outlining a domestic abuse policy for the city’s police department. City council is discussing a measure that would regulate its policy about dealing with domestic violence in the police force. This move comes about four months after city police promoted three Pittsburgh police officers who have faced allegations of domestic violence...
Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper outlined his department’s plan to address the issue.
“All allegations of officers involved in domestic violence incidents will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken... A domestic violence review board has been appointed... and will convene quarterly, or as needed, to review all domestic violence incidents – and will make direct recommendations to the chief."
But some women’s advocates who spoke at today’s hearing say the plan falls short...
“The mayor promised immediate action to implement zero tolerance policies within the City of Pittsburgh Police Force, and frankly, within the city itself,” Jeanne Clark said... the efforts outlined to date are “far from what we expect... What we have is the fox guarding the chicken coup... It is a totally internal policy. It is a policy with no hope for citizen input. It is a policy that does not help the women of the city feel more comfortable about the police who may need to rescue them.”
Acknowledging the police department’s efforts to address the issue,
Council President Doug Shields asked Chief Harper to present a more detailed explanation of the policy when council meets again next week. ”Something’s being done,” Shields added, but we’re still not quite sure what that is; so I would ask that prior to Wednesday’s discussion on the bill next week – that we get that information in front of us. I’d like to see a draft of the policy, if nothing else.”

This is from earlier in the month:

Politics on policing

The Duquesne Duke, PA
By Marissa Rosenbaum
Oct 11 2007
...The Citizen Police Review Board held the first of eight meetings analyzing key events that affect local law enforcement in the past decade and their impact on Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Oct. 9. The panel participants included Rich Lord, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jeanne Clark of the National Organization of Women; Robert Swartzwelder, a trainer with the Pittsburgh SWAT team; and event moderator Chuck Bosetti, former Vice President and Legal Chair of the Fraternal Order of Police, (F.O.P), a Pittsburgh Police Officer and a freelance writer for the Post-Gazette... There are currently 35 officers in the Pittsburgh Police Bureau facing domestic violence allegations and, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Council President Doug Shields is attempting to pass a law that would allow the city to take “a case-by-case approach to domestic abuse allegations”...
“Politics affect anything of everything in this town,” Bosetti said. “If you can’t expect honest behavior to prevail, something is wrong”...
The next meeting, which is opened to anyone involved with or interested in criminal justice, will be held at 6 p.m., Oct. 23, 2007, at the Kingsley Community Center on Frankstown Avenue.


  1. Wednesday, October 17, 2007
    City Council Hearing on Pittsburgh Police and Domestic Violence

  2. City police unveil policy on domestic violence by officers
    Friday, October 19, 2007
    By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Pittsburgh Police Bureau unveiled new policies on domestic violence by officers yesterday, but women's advocates at a public hearing told City Council to put stronger rules into the city code.

    The hearing featured a range of solutions to a problem brought to the fore by the June promotions of three officers who have faced allegations of domestic abuse.

    Police Chief Nate Harper said the bureau and the city's Office of Municipal Investigations are now conducting separate, thorough investigations of all allegations of family abuse by officers. An internal Domestic Violence Review Board meets quarterly to discuss all such accusations.

    The new measures "will ensure that no incidents regarding domestic violence allegations involving officers will slip through the cracks," he said.

    No one subject to an active protection-from-abuse order can now be hired or promoted, he said. Expired PFAs aren't a bar to joining the force or moving up, but they are considered, with more weight given to those rooted in violent acts than those stemming from "just a shouting match."

    Similar rules are in Council President Doug Shields' proposed ordinance, which also would require enhanced background checks of police applicants, and consideration of reassignment or termination of officers subject to PFAs.

    Barbara K. Shore, of the National Council of Jewish Women, called Mr. Shields' proposal "a giant step in the right direction."

    Some of the eight speakers at the hearing who favored the proposal -- only the police union president spoke in opposition -- suggested ways to strengthen it.

    Jeanne Clark, of the National Organization for Women, wanted outside review of allegations, calling Chief Harper's changes "the fox guarding the chicken coop."

    Chief Harper later said he wants the Allegheny County district attorney to review all domestic violence calls to officers' homes, but hasn't worked out the details yet.

    Christine Stone, of the National Council of Jewish Women, said any officer subject to a PFA should have to surrender all firearms.

    Chief Harper said the bureau is guided by court orders on whether an officer under a PFA can possess a service revolver. There is as yet no policy covering PFA cases in which the court doesn't specify whether the officer can carry a gun on duty.

    Fraternal Order of Police President Jim Malloy said council shouldn't legislate personnel decisions. Council confirmed Chief Harper, he said, and should trust his leadership. "The first time a flap came along, you immediately challenged his ability to lead by turning this into police bashing," he said.

    "When I vote to confirm a director or a bureau chief, I do not give them ... carte blanche," countered Mr. Shields.

    Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, issued a "warning to the city of Pittsburgh, that we have some officers whose domestic relations are fraught with abuse and violence," predicting a "tragedy" if nothing is done.

    A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review of court records found that 35 current city police officers have been the subject of protection-from-abuse orders. Two of those officers were hired early this year, before Mayor Luke Ravenstahl pledged "zero tolerance" against domestic abuse throughout the city's 3,300-person work force.

    Council is expected to cast a tentative vote on Mr. Shields' legislation on Wednesday, with a final vote possible on Oct. 30.
    First published on October 19, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.

  3. Zero tolerance urged for abuse for Pittsburgh police
    By The Tribune-Review
    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Pittsburgh City Councilman William Peduto suggested a series of amendments Tuesday that he believes would create a zero tolerance policy for city police officers accused of domestic violence.

    Peduto said the proposed amendments -- including one that requires any officer who is the subject of a domestic violence or protection from abuse investigation to immediately surrender his service weapon -- are based on national best practice models from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

    The suggested amendments follow a public hearing last week when women's groups urged City Council to strengthen a proposed domestic violence policy that is scheduled for a preliminary vote today.

    The amendments suggested by Peduto also would:

    = Add language that recognizes the danger of child abuse and domestic violence against all family members, not just the police officer's intimate partner.

    = Require the city to maintain personnel records of Police Bureau employees for 10 years after they leave the job.

    = Require any officer involved in a protection from abuse proceeding to immediately notify his or her immediate supervisor.

    = Prohibit anyone with a protection from abuse order from being admitted to the training academy and require the Civilian Police Review Board to investigate all complaints of domestic violence involving a police officer. Any officer accused of domestic violence would not be eligible for promotion until the investigation is completed.

  4. Amendments on police domestic violence rules proposed
    Tuesday, October 23, 2007
    By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Pittsburgh Councilman William Peduto today proposed amendments to legislation designed to set rules for handling accusations of domestic violence against city police.

    The most strenuous of Mr. Peduto's desired changes to legislation by Council President Doug Shields would force officers who are subjects of criminal domestic violence investigations or protection from abuse orders to "surrender all firearms, including their primary service weapon, immediately" according to the text of the amendments, delivered to other council members this morning.

    The Fraternal Order of Police has argued that such a measure would be tantamount to taking away an officer's livelihood based on a mere accusation, since police can't work if they can't carry guns, and emergency PFAs are routinely granted with a low burden of proof.

    Mr. Peduto said the removal of all guns from officers accused of family abuse is considered standard practice by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Military. The alternative, he argued, is risking tragedy. "By allowing an officer to continue to carry a weapon, the city could become liable if anything should happen," he said.

    The amendments would also compel the Police Bureau to refer all allegations of domestic violence by officers to the independent Citizen Police Review Board. They are currently handled by the bureau and by the Office of Municipal Investigations, which reports to Public Safety Director Mike Huss.

    Mr. Peduto would also bar the hiring or promotion of anyone subject to a PFA or criminal domestic violence investigation.

    "We need to go beyond the soundbite of having a zero tolerance policy [toward employee domestic violence] and put together the best policy to protect victims," Mr. Peduto said.

    Mr. Shields' legislation already reiterates federal law barring officers convicted of domestic violence crimes from possessing firearms, meaning they would be fired. If an officer was the subject of a protection-from-abuse petition or order, police leadership would review his or her duty assignment and employment.

    Enhanced background checks of officer candidates would be required, as would interview questions aimed at eliciting information about any past domestic violence. Any candidate "with a history of perpetuating violence" would not be hired, and the bureau would "strongly consider" not hiring candidates with "tendencies indicative of abusive behavior," according to the proposed ordinance.

    A tentative vote originally scheduled for tomorrow may be postponed until Oct. 31, to give council time to consider the amendments, Mr. Peduto said.

    Police Chief Nate Harper last week said the bureau and the city's Office of Municipal Investigations are now conducting separate, thorough investigations of all allegations of family abuse by officers. An internal Domestic Violence Review Board meets quarterly to discuss all such accusations.

    No one subject to an active protection-from-abuse order can now be hired or promoted, he said. Expired PFAs aren't a bar to joining the force or moving up, but they are considered.

    The issue of domestic violence was brought to the fore by the June 18 promotions of three police officers with histories of domestic abuse allegations.The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has found that 35 city officers have been the subjects of protection orders, and some have been allowed to carry firearms while on duty.

    First published on October 23, 2007 at 9:02 am


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