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Thursday, November 1, 2007

[PA] Pittsburgh police "want to be able to excuse batterers & promote them..."

City Council, Police Clash On Law-Making Procedures
October 31, 2007

Women's advocates said they are angry at the delay and insistence by police brass and union officials that the chief, not a city ordinance, should lay down the rules governing officers accused of domestic abuse. "They just don't want a law. They want to be able do what they want to do. They want to be able to excuse batterers and promote them if necessary, and they don't want the citizens involved in this. This is just a total outrage," said NOW member Jeanne Clark. Council President Doug Shields bristled at police union criticism of his bill. "There is nothing in this ordinance that can be characterized as a witch hunt. There are other institutions of law and government that have the obligation and responsibility to deal with these things," Shields said. "Most of our rules and regulations are chiseled in stone. Once they're written -- they stay there," said Police Union President Jim Malloy. "When it's the law of the city of Pittsburgh, only council can change it. So any changes that will need to be made wouldn't be made by the police bureau in a back room with the door shut. It will have to be made at this table with the public," said city councilman Bill Peduto. "It is my personal opinion that regulating this behavior, or any behavior of a Pittsburgh police officer, lies with the chief of police," said Assistant Chief Paul Donaldson. But now Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he favors council putting it into law. "I am of the belief that we had it in a policy form, it wasn't followed to the extent it probably should have been and so therefore I support an ordinance, despite some of the concerns of the law department, and the personnel department, and the police department and the union," Ravenstahl said.

Council delays vote on police domestic abuse legislation
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Rich Lord
November 01, 2007
Pittsburgh City Council yesterday delayed for two weeks a vote on legislation to address police domestic abuse, after rejecting an amendment to seize the guns of officers subject to protection-from-abuse orders. The delay came after Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for the first time endorsed the concept of an ordinance on the subject, but asked for more time to craft a bill that would satisfy police, council and advocates for women. "I support this bill being put in the form of an ordinance so that the police department is held accountable," said Mr. Ravenstahl. "I support an ordinance, despite some of the concerns of the law department and the personnel department and the police department and the union." Some police brass worry that an ordinance would mean command staff members could be charged with summary offenses if they mistakenly failed to enforce it. Council President Doug Shields' proposal would require extensive background checks of new hires and bar the hiring of recruits with "tendencies indicative of abusive behavior." An officer subject to a PFA could be reassigned or fired. An amendment proposed by Councilman William Peduto would force officers subject to PFAs to turn over their guns, but it fell one vote short. Then council voted 6-3 to postpone a vote on the entire bill, with Mr. Peduto, Mr. Shields and Mr. Koch opposed to waiting. The delay came after women's advocacy groups split over how to proceed. Some groups advocated a vote before the Tuesday general election, while some urged lengthier talks with the administration. The issue came to the fore after the June 18 promotions of three officers with domestic abuse allegations in their pasts.

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