Mayor won't reverse police promotions

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Mayor Luke Ravenstahl comments on the police promotions

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Read Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's letter on why he won't reverse the police promotions
Promoted officer was sent to training to manage anger    

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will not demote three police officers promoted June 18 despite domestic abuse accusations, but he is implementing, starting today, what he described in a press release as "a new policy that will set a standard of zero tolerance for domestic abuse."

Police Cmdr. George Trosky, Lt. Charles Rodriguez and Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac will remain in those posts, despite a dismissed domestic violence charge against the first, a pending simple assault charge against the second, and two domestic calls this year to the apartment of the third.

The mayor said he was constrained by civil service law and the likelihood of a Fraternal Order of Police lawsuit.

Women's leaders reacted with disappointment.

"I think the mayor, while fearful of losing a lawsuit, has lost the trust of the women of Pittsburgh," said Jeanne Clark, a member of the state board of the National Organization for Women and a Squirrel Hill resident. "We're looking at various ways in which we can force the city to do the right thing. . . . The FOP isn't the only one that can sue."

She said the promotions would be a topic at a NOW state board meeting tomorrow.

While Mr. Ravenstahl knew Cmdr. Trosky's background and had approved his promotion, he said Chief Nate Harper had not told him the situations of the other two men.

"Legally, these men have already been promoted and the only action that could now be taken by Chief Harper would be to demote the two officers," the mayor said in the release. "I have been told by counsel that such an act would violate the current rules and the city would be on thin ice legally; therefore, the officers will not be demoted at this time."

He said Chief Harper has been reprimanded.

Women's groups have called for the reversal of all three promotions.

The mayor said the Police Bureau will revise its domestic violence policy to "incorporate" best practices recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The city will work with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office and the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh to add to existing domestic violence training.

Candidates for promotion will be reviewed by "an internal panel of senior supervisors" to determine if there is anything in the officer's history that could be relevant to the job change. A set of specific disqualifiers from promotion will be initiated.

The mayor maintained that he wasn't told of the circumstances surrounding Lt. Rodriguez or Sgt. Hlavac prior to their promotions, and that if he had known, he "would have urged that extraordinary steps be taken to further look into their respective issues."

"The [joint city-county] Women's Commission is very disappointed with the mayor's decision," said Cynthia McCormick, chair of that commission. "However, representatives from the Women's Commission will be working with the mayor on revisions of policies and procedures to make sure that similar situations are avoided in the future."

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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