Experts who take a hard line in dealing with police officers accused of domestic violence recommend a range of approaches by departments, including temporarily putting alleged abusers on desk duty, taking away their guns or forbidding contact with their accusers.
Pittsburgh employs none of those techniques, hewing instead to a mostly hands-off policy.
The Post-Gazette article goes on and on and on, but that lede says it all. Other cities are doing things, and Pittsburgh does nothing.
Hubert Williams, who ran the Newark Police Department in New Jersey for 11 years and is president of the Police Foundation think tank, expressed surprise that police brass in Pittsburgh are not more proactive.
“I’m surprised, quite frankly, because I know they just got out from under a consent decree, because this is the kind of thing that opens the door to outside intervention in internal affairs. If we’re going to let the courts decide whether the officer’s conduct was appropriate, it’s problematic,” Mr. Williams said.
The bureau was under federal oversight from 1997 to 2002 after the U.S. Justice Department said it could prove a “pattern and practice” of police misconduct.
Maybe we’re not being fair. At the recent post-agenda session of council, union president James Malloy argued that once a Mayor chooses his Chief, and Council approves that Chief, it is incumbent upon all of us to place our faith in that Chief, and to simmer down.
Since our Chief has elected to take no measures against any officers, that is a clear indication that all of our officers have become exemplary citizens over the past decade.
The issue is now front and center in the Pittsburgh bureau, where at least 34 current officers have been defendants in PFAs. Top brass recently promoted three officers whose histories included accusations of domestic abuse that did not include protection orders.
Well, it could be argued that in all 34 out of those 34 cases, and in the cases of the three promoted officers (two of which merited a mayoral reprimand), and in all the cases we don’t know about because they did not culminate in official PFAs — nothing really happened.
Nothing important. Nothing bad enough to disrupt a good cop’s career.
For all we know, those alleged “victims” all came after those poor police officers with frying pans!
Under pressure from City Council and various public interest groups, Police Chief Nathan E. Harper is updating the bureau’s policies regarding officer-involved domestic disputes. One of the changes he plans is to authorize an “administrative investigation” of all domestic violence incidents.
Does that sound like anything? Maybe it’s the scare-quotes, but to us that sure doesn’t sound like anything.