Mr. President, Honorable Members of Council, Good Morning.
Perhaps among the most compelling reasons to move forward affirmatively is the very substance of the opposition expressed by the Fraternal Order of Police. Mr. Malloy suggests that the ‘guys will be terrified to argue with their wives’ – respectfully, I remind Mr. Malloy that he represents a diverse membership of Pittsburgh police officers, all of whom maintain some relationship that is protected by the domestic abuse laws of the Commonwealth. … be it as a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a wife, a husband, a conventional, gay or lesbian partner. Reasonable people simply do not tolerate the disrespect and dehumanization which accompanies domestic abuse.
We have heard the victims seeking the safety of a PFA characterized as vindictive or manipulative people seeking only to make life difficult for the alleged abuser and suggestions that a PFA is only an accusation deserving of little weight. The opposition has come perilously close to invoking the “nuts & sluts” defense. It takes a lot of courage for a victim to seek the protection of a PFA order - it is not a decision made casually.
We have heard from the experts as to the unique nature of domestic violence and law enforcement and the fragile vulnerability of police families.
- The current measure is an excellent beginning. Weaknesses include the self-reporting aspect of civil or criminal actions against an officer. I recommend some independent verification be conducted by an objective third party, not an internal office staffed by police officers.
- An annual public report should be provided by the Bureau of police which includes a disclosure of the number of officers involved in DV related incidents, including PFAs.
- When a court of competent jurisdiction issues a PFA on behalf of a victim the public receive the same protection from the abusive police officer.
- If personal possession of a weapon is prohibited by a PFA, then the City issued weapon should be withheld as an administrative safeguard to protect the victim and avoid complicity in a heinous act.
Last week I shared the stories of several victims of police committed domestic violence. Today, many of them are sitting on your shoulders, particularly Crystal, Tyler and Austin. They wonder if you will be bullied into submission and contribute to the growing list of victims or if they as your better angels will prevail and guide this City toward enlightened respect for police officers and their families.
Elizabeth C. Pittinger
Citizen Police Review Board
10-18-07 City Council