City police commander is demoted after memo

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Catherine McNeilly, a key figure in the controversy surrounding former city of Pittsburgh Operations Director Dennis Regan, was demoted to the rank of lieutenant yesterday.

Lt. McNeilly, formerly commander of the Zone 1 station, is now working in the Warrant Office, a Police Bureau official said. The change reduces her salary from $77,927 to $67,764. It also makes her a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, giving her job protections commanders do not have.

Lt. McNeilly could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Timothy O'Brien, would only say that his client "is a decorated veteran who has spent 28 years as a dedicated public servant, seeking to serve the best interests of the public," including in her involvement in matters regarding Mr. Regan.

Lt. McNeilly, wife of former Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr., sent a memo to City Council members Oct. 9 in which she questioned the handling of a disciplinary case against Detective Francis Rende. She alleged that Mr. Regan, then Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's nominee for public safety director, had blocked discipline against the detective, who is the brother of Mr. Regan's housemate.

Her memo gave council members details of the allegations against Detective Rende and said Mr. Regan lacked "the capacity to act fairly when it comes to disciplinary matters against our officers."

Lt. McNeilly was suspended with pay on Oct. 12 while the city investigated her allegations and whether she had violated policy by distributing employee personnel records.

Mr. Regan resigned Friday, after a 50-day city Law Department probe found no conclusive evidence that he did anything wrong. Also Friday, Mr. Ravenstahl said what Lt. McNeilly did was not an act of whistleblowing.

Lt. McNeilly became a commander in 1992, when she was named a watch commander. She later served as commander of the North Side station, special events, research and development, and special deployments. She had moved back to the North Side station in April.

Post-Gazette
Lt. Catherine McNeilly

Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Ed Blazina can be reached at eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470.


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