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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

[PA] Is the domestic abuse of Pittsburgh Police Sgt. Hvalac violent enough yet to be taken seriously?


 IN 2007 POLICE OFFICIALS SAID THAT PITTSBURGH POLICE SGT. EUGENE HVALAC'S DOMESTIC INCIDENTS HAD BEEN VERBAL, NOT VIOLENT. (THAT DOESN'T APPEAR TO ME TO BE TRUE, BUT)

IS IT VIOLENT ENOUGH NOW TO TAKE SERIOUSLY?

Saturday: Pittsburgh Police Sgt. Eugene Hlavac was charged with first-degree felony aggravated assault after allegedly slapping the face of his son's mother and dislocating her jaw during an argument. As she had agreed with Hvalac to do after he wouldn't let her call the police, she told medical personnel at the hospital that she fell down some stairs, but soon after she reported her injuries were due to a violent assault. No, he's not in jail.



FROM 2007 NEWS: ...Sgt. Hlavac's promotion is one of three that have sparked concern that was heard yesterday during a two-hour City Council public hearing. He and new Cmdr. George Trosky and Lt. Charles Rodriguez have all faced charges of verbal or violent domestic abuse... "Clearly the police brass has no idea about the impact and the law regarding domestic violence," Jeanne Clark said. "It kills women. It kills men"... Deputy Chief Donaldson said Sgt. Hlavac complied with the order to attend three days of anger management counseling...



FROM MAY 2008 NEWS: ...It took the Citizen Police Review Board two years to collect and examine evidence and gather testimony on a complaint against a police officer accused of recklessly endangering a group of bicyclists. It took the police department 12 days to curtly reject the board's findings... Hlavac made news last summer when he was promoted to sergeant along with the promotion of George Trosky to commander and Charles Rodriguez to lieutenant, despite domestic-violence allegations hanging over all three. "I don't know why he's a sergeant," [Citizen Police Review Board Executive Director Elizabeth] Pittinger says. "His conduct at our public hearing demonstrates that he needs to grow up"... 

VIDEO:
[PA] POLICE SGT. HLAVAC 2009 FELONY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGE


VIDEOS FROM 2007:

    CITY OFFICER CHARGED WITH ASSAULT
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    By Kaitlynn Riely
    Sunday, December 20, 2009
    [Excerpts] Pittsburgh police Sgt. Eugene Hlavac was charged yesterday with one count of aggravated assault after his ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of his son, said he hit her. [LM] initially contacted Penn Hills police, who referred her to Pittsburgh police... The sergeant, who works in the Hill District, was arraigned yesterday and released on his own recognizance but was ordered to have no contact with Ms. [LM]... According to the complaint, Ms. [LM] was late to pick up their son at Sgt. Hlavac's house in Greenfield Friday after her car broke down. When she arrived, she said she and Sgt. Hlavac, who was in uniform and preparing to leave for work, began arguing in front of his house... She said they scuffled briefly after he slapped her and she grabbed him... Ms. [LM] said she was in pain and threatened to call the police... She said he took her cell phone and told her, "You're not doing this. You're not ruining my life"... She said she left to go to the hospital after telling Sgt. Hlavac she would say she hurt her face in a fall. According to the complaint, Sgt. Hlavac met her at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville and told a doctor, "She's always getting hurt, she fell down her steps and tripped and may have hit her wall." The doctor determined that Ms. [LM] had partially dislocated her jaw... [Full article here]

    PITTSBURGH POLICE OFFICER ACCUSED OF HITTING EX
    Pittsburgh Police Sergeant Faces Assault Charges
    thepittsburghchannel.com
    December 20, 2009
    [Excerpts] Pittsburgh police Sgt. Eugene Hlavac is facing assault charges after the mother of his son claimed he hit her. Sgt. Eugene Hlavac Sgt. Eugene Hlavac was charged with aggravated assault after the mother of his child, [LM], came forward, saying he hit her across the face this week. According to the police criminal complaint, the two got into an argument. [LM] said Hlavac hit her and then tried to get her to say she was injured in a fall. An emergency room doctor didn't believe the story, and eventually, the woman told police her injury was caused by Hlavac. When the couple was together, police had been called to their home for reports of loud arguments. [Full article here]

    CITY POLICEMAN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT TAKING TIME OFF FROM DUTY
    Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
    By Kim Leonard
    Monday, December 21, 2009
    [Excerpts] A Pittsburgh police sergeant accused of slapping his former girlfriend on Friday afternoon has been charged with aggravated assault and is taking time off from work through the end of the year as the incident is investigated. Eugene Hlavac, 41, is accused of hitting [LM] after she arrived late to pick up their son, according to a criminal complaint. Assistant Chief William Bochter said Sunday that Hlavac is taking "discretionary days" off. An investigation is under way, and any disciplinary action against the officer would take place when he returns in the new year... [LM] told Pittsburgh police she was supposed to be at Hlavac's house on Beechwood Boulevard in Greenfield at 2:15 p.m. Friday so he could go to work, but she was delayed when her vehicle stalled and she had to call a friend to bring a gallon of gas. When she reached Hlavac's home at 2:55, he was waiting outside, in uniform. He put their son into her vehicle and slammed the door. The two argued outside the car, and Hlavac slapped [LM] on the left side of her face with his open right hand... She said she was in such pain that she went to her car to get her phone and told Hlavac she intended to call police... Hlavac replied, "You're not doing this, you're not ruining my life," according to the complaint. She told police she had difficulty speaking because of the pain. [LM] said the two talked inside his home for about a half-hour and he convinced her to keep the incident secret... She went to Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville and was referred to a specialist for a partial dislocation of her jaw, according to the complaint. Hlavac showed up at the hospital... she told the doctor she hurt herself in a fall. When the doctor asked how that resulted in facial injuries, Hlavac said she fell down steps and might have hit a wall... Later, after talking over the situation with her family, [LM] said she went to the Penn Hills police station, saying she was afraid to go to the city. She was referred to the Zone 4 station. Hlavac, who works out of the Zone 2 station in the Hill District, was arraigned Saturday, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. In 2007, Hlavac and two other city offices who were linked to reports of disturbances or domestic violence were promoted, touching off a controversy that led to policy changes in the department. Police were called to investigate reports of screaming at Hlavac's home in March 2007, but no charges were filed. [Full article here]

    NO DISCIPLINE DECIDED YET FOR CITY OFFICER CHARGED WITH ASSAULT
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    By Jonathan D. Silver
    Monday, December 21, 2009
    [Excerpts] Pittsburgh police officials have not determined whether to change a sergeant's work status following his weekend arrest for hitting his ex-girlfriend. Sgt. Eugene Hlavac was charged Saturday with aggravated assault after allegedly slapping [LM]'s face and dislocating her jaw during an argument at his Greenfield home. Assistant Chief William Bochter said yesterday that Sgt. Hlavac was on vacation at the time of the incident and is scheduled to be off until January. Sgt. Hlavac works the overnight shift at Zone 2 in the Hill District. "He's off right now using discretionary time. He was scheduled off until the end of the year, so his case will be investigated as all domestic violence cases are, internally," Assistant Chief Bochter said. "If there is discipline, he would be disciplined when he returned to work... We're just getting this. We haven't had a chance to investigate"... Sgt. Hlavac is charged with a first-degree felony.... Officer Dan O'Hara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he had not been briefed on the situation. "That's in his personal life. He's gonna have to deal with that as an individual. We don't represent him for that"... [Full article here]

    PITTSBURGH POLICE OFFICER CHARGED WITH DOMESTIC ABUSE
    Sgt. Eugene Hlavac Accused Of Hitting Girlfriend
    ThePittsburghChannel.com
    December 21, 2009
    [Excerpts] ...State law calls for his suspension while the investigation proceeds. Channel 4 Action News attempted to contact Hlavac on Monday, but he declined to comment. He is currently not at work through the holidays due to vacation time. As of 5 p.m., city police did not return calls to Channel 4 regarding his employment status... In 2007, Pittsburgh city council voted in favor of a bill allowing for guns to be taken away from police officers who are involved in a suspected case of domestic violence. Ravenstahl promised a "zero tolerance" policy going forward. "Still angry and frustrated that one would do something like that," said Ravenstahl of Hlavac’s recent charges. "It’s something we want to avoid. That's why we put the policy in place that we did and now we want to enforce it." At the time the ordinance was passed, Fraternal Order of Police President James Malloy called the ordinance "a witch hunt" and said only one or two of the 2,700 protection from abuse orders issued that year in Allegheny County involved police officers... "This is not an issue that the police department is very careful about," said Phyllis Wetherby, of the National Organization for Women. [Full article here]



    ANGRY, ANGRY BOYS IN BLUE
    Examiner
    Michael Bagen
    December 20, 2009
    [Excerpts] A Pittsburgh Police officer was arraigned yesterday for domestic violence, giving us yet another peek into the armed men who patrol our streets. Police Sgt. Eugene Hlavac, whose name should be familiar to some readers of the local news, was released after arraignment over charges he allegedly dislocat[ed] his girlfriend's jaw. Initially the victim claimed (as most do) that she "fell down the stairs", but in time the story came out... What's interesting here is that the Hlavac's very promotion to sergeant came amidst allegations of domestic abuse and, more broadly, being a hazard to the city. How else do you qualify... After allegations of domestic abuse in his East Liberty home in 2007, his Zone 5 commander RaShall Brackney recommended his anger counseling and limiting his contact with the public. Instead, he got three days counseling and transfer to the Hill District. Soon after, Hlavic got a new commander, another man with a history of domestic violence and drunken driving. George Trosky was even demoted for it, from sergeant to patrolman. But in June of 2007, due to a change made in police policy, Trosky was able to jump from detective to commander, omitting the earlier supervisory rank of lieutenant... So let's recap. What we have here is a man who got in a fight with his girl in March of 2007, and for it was recommended to be taken off the streets. Instead... "We never took him out of contact with the public," Chief Harper said. "We sent him to Zone 2" in the Hill District, where, the chief acknowledged, there is frequent contact with the public... [Full article here]

    WOMEN'S GROUP URGES MAYOR TO 'TAKE ACTION' AGAINST CITY OFFICER
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    By Jonathan D. Silver
    Tuesday, December 22, 2009
    [Excerpt] The National Council of Jewish Women yesterday urged Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to "take action" against a Pittsburgh police sergeant charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Christine Stone, the group's public affairs chairwoman for Pennsylvania, sent the mayor a letter reminding him of a zero-tolerance pledge he made in 2007 with regard to domestic violence among city employees... Ms. Stone wrote in an e-mail that she is asking that the matter "not be swept under the rug"... Sgt. Hlavac, a night-shift supervisor at Zone 2 in the Hill District, is temporarily assigned to the warrant office while the criminal and internal investigations are pending... Officer Dan O'Hara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the move to the warrant office when Sgt. Hlavac returns to duty from vacation is meant to limit his interaction with the public... [Full article here]

    JUNE 2007:

    PROMOTED OFFICER SENT TO TRAINING TO MANAGE ANGER
    Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA
    By Jonathan D. Silver and Rich Lord
    Friday, June 29, 2007
    [Excerpts] A police sergeant's June 18 promotion came three months after he was sent to anger management training and a supervisor recommended that his contact with the public be minimized. Police leadership yesterday said that now-Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac completed the training but was never removed from contact with the public and that the measure shouldn't have precluded his promotion. "When they go to anger management, and get some sort of counseling, that's taken into consideration," Police Chief Nate Harper said. "If he would have continued to have anger issues, it would definitely be taken into consideration" in the promotion decision -- but he didn't. Sgt. Hlavac's promotion is one of three that have sparked concern that was heard yesterday during a two-hour City Council public hearing. He and new Cmdr. George Trosky and Lt. Charles Rodriguez have all faced charges of verbal or violent domestic abuse. The promotions are "appalling. They're insulting to the citizens of Pittsburgh," said Jeanne Clark, a member of the state board of the National Organization for Women and a Squirrel Hill resident. She was among 150 people at the hearing, including Chief Harper. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl did not attend. "Clearly the police brass has no idea about the impact and the law regarding domestic violence," she said. "It kills women. It kills men." Chief Harper listened to the two dozen speakers, then said he did not regret the promotions, instead faulting a public tendency to "accuse people" of things that have not been proved, adding that "the public has the right to their opinion." Police officials have said that Sgt. Hlavac's domestic problems have been verbal, not violent... [Alleged victim LM] told Sgt. [Raymond] Hutton that Sgt. Hlavac pulled her hair, hauled her from a bed and grabbed her wrist, according to the report... Sgt. Hlavac told Sgt. Hutton that he grabbed her wrist in self-defense when she hit him while holding a cell phone, and did not grab her hair, just her pillow. On March 22, Sgt. Hlavac's supervisor at the time, Lt. Philip Dacey, said he witnessed an argument at the apartment... Zone 5 Cmdr. RaShall Brackney, recommended he be removed from active duty, undergo counseling and that his contact with the public be minimized when he returned... Deputy Chief Donaldson said Sgt. Hlavac complied with the order to attend three days of anger management counseling. "We never took him out of contact with the public," Chief Harper said... Mr. Ravenstahl has said that he did not know of the issues involving Sgt. Hlavac and Lt. Rodriguez prior to their promotions... [Full article here]

    MAY 2008:

    POLICE: COPS DISMISS CPRB FINDINGS ABOUT SGT. HLAVAC
    Pittsburgh City Paper
    By Melissa Meinzer
    May 1, 2008
    [Excerpts] It took the Citizen Police Review Board two years to collect and examine evidence and gather testimony on a complaint against a police officer accused of recklessly endangering a group of bicyclists. It took the police department 12 days to curtly reject the board's findings. Based on nine complaints and the sworn testimony of four witnesses, the CPRB recommended that Sgt. Eugene Hlavac be suspended for seven days, undergo retraining and anger management, and possibly face prosecution... The board heard testimony on two counts: conduct unbecoming a member of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and conduct toward the public... "I reject your recommendations regarding discipline," wrote Deputy Chief Paul J. Donaldson in a brief March 18 letter responding to CPRB Executive Director Elizabeth Pittinger. City code required a reply within 30 days, and the letter was turned around in 12. Donaldson's letter acknowledged receipt of Pittinger's letter and what the board's findings were, then rejected the findings, saying that the bureau had already disciplined Hlavac in March 2007. "I'm not going to speak to what it was," says Donaldson of the action against Hlavac... "It does not surprise me," says Pittinger of the rejection. "The paternal nature of that department says, 'We've dealt with him, we're done with him'... While Pittinger acknowledges that Hlavac was disciplined - she doesn't know what the discipline consisted of... Hlavac made news last summer when he was promoted to sergeant along with the promotion of George Trosky to commander and Charles Rodriguez to lieutenant, despite domestic-violence allegations hanging over all three. "I don't know why he's a sergeant," Pittinger says. "His conduct at our public hearing demonstrates that he needs to grow up." Hlavac was plugged into an MP3 player during the hearing that was turned up so loud others in attendance could hear it, and didn't answer questions, pleading the Fifth Amendment... [Full article here]
    [police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner abuse law enforcement public safety hx history repeat teflon zero tolerance pennsylvania state police union]

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