Judge allows police security at Pittsburgh strip club

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A Downtown strip club likely will prevail in its federal lawsuit challenging a Pittsburgh police order prohibiting officers from working as security there, the judge overseeing the case wrote in a memorandum filed Monday.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer wrote that acting police Chief Regina McDonald took "purely discriminatory governmental action" when she revoked the ability of Blush, which is owned by One Three Five Inc., to hire officers to work outside the club as security.

Chief McDonald was not available Monday but testified that in March she sent a one-line letter to Blush on Ninth Street and to strip club Cheerleaders in the Strip District stating that the companies no longer were approved to hire officers to moonlight there as security because the police presence there might place "the bureau into disrepute."

The judge's memorandum paraphrases Chief McDonald as saying that "the sole reason for her decision vis-a-vis Blush was the fact that it operated as a 'strip joint' and admitted that she would not have taken such action if it operated only as a bar."

Bureau policy allows the chief or one of her designees to reject an application to have officers moonlighting as security, but Judge Fischer wrote that she believes that rejection could be based on a business's failure and not "a strong personal distaste for adult entertainment facilities like Blush."

Judge Fischer ordered the city to allow officers to work as security at Blush while its lawsuit is making its way through the court system.

Chief McDonald and the city have until July 1 to file a response in court.

Assistant city solicitor Wendy Kobee declined to comment aside from saying, "The city is in the habit of complying with court orders."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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