Caught on video: The camera doesn't lie about a detective's behavior

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How many civilian complaints must a Pittsburgh officer generate before it becomes obvious, even to the Fraternal Order of Police, that he doesn't belong in uniform?

After a career of two decades in which he racked up more than a dozen complaints of conduct unbecoming an officer, Detective Frank Rende was captured by a cellphone camera Saturday in another dubious moment that won't make the police training video. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who saw the recording of the officer's behavior, declared that he wants Mr. Rende gone. The Office of Municipal Investigations is examining the incident.

While working a security detail at a South Side bar on St. Patrick's Day, Detective Rende arrested Mark Keyser Jr. of Ross on charges of defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. The video showed the detective outside the bar in an expletive-laced episode, pursuing and intimidating a stumbling civilian who didn't appear to be offering resistance.

Mr. Rende is seen shouting "Mind your own frickin' business" at bystanders before brandishing his Taser and placing it against Mr. Keyser's neck. (The police bureau determined later that Mr. Rende never activated the device.) He is verbally abusive not just to Mr. Keyser, but to others within earshot. The fact that the video is now on YouTube and other sites is an embarrassment to the hundreds of effective and professional officers on the city force.

On Wednesday a spokeswoman for the FBI said the agency is assessing whether to open a civil-rights investigation into the Rende case.

Yet he told the Post-Gazette, "I'm not the rogue cop they're making me out to be" and maintained that only two of the past complaints against him were sustained. He said that overall his record is "excellent."

How excellent is an officer who returned to the home of a woman who had called 911 to report a disturbance and had sexual relations with her after his shift? The woman was drunk and depressed, according to an OMI report. Asked this week about that 1999 case, the detective acknowledged his behavior as a moral lapse, but then said: "A three-minute tryst cost me all this." Does that sound like a man who learned a lesson, or one who is merely annoyed by the consequences of his actions?

No doubt it's a surprise to Mr. Rende that a police officer's conduct is the public's "frickin' business." People have a right to expect professionalism from their officers, yet the detective has crossed the line repeatedly. Such a troublesome cop is not worthy of the public's respect, is not an asset to his fellow officers and does not deserve a living provided by the taxpayers.



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