Internal police probe focuses on Zone 5 flap

Officer accuses administrator of cursing at her, making derogatory comments

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Two high-level Pittsburgh police administrators met with officers working at the city's Zone 5 station in Highland Park as part of an internal investigation into a complaint filed by a desk officer about her supervisor's conduct.

The investigation began last month after Officer Cynthia Ferretti sent an Aug. 14 letter to five organizations, including the police bureau, complaining that Lt. Reyne Kacsuta cursed during an argument about a police car and that the city's Office of Municipal Investigations would not investigate her complaint.

The dispute is unusual in that Assistant Chief of Operations Maurita Bryant and Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson, who are among the highest ranking people in the bureau, pulled officers from multiple shifts out of the zone and over to the training academy for more private interviews. It's not clear how many officers they met with total. The interviews occurred during the last week of August.

"I have been apprised that Deputy Chief [Donaldson] and Assistant Chief Bryant are conducting an internal investigation on the matter and have informed me that they will make no statement," police spokeswoman Diane Richard said in an email.

Pittsburgh police policy says supervisors "are forbidden to injure or discredit those under their command or authority by tyrannical or capricious conduct or by abusive language or actions."

In the letter obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Officer Ferretti, 53, a 23-year veteran of the force, wrote that she was working the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift on July 27 when she asked Lt. Kacsuta who was using one of the cars.

Lt. Kacsuta, 51, a 28-year veteran of the force, told Officer Ferretti she gave the car to an officer who needed to go to court, according to the letter.

Another officer asked where the car was and Officer Ferretti told him she did not have a car for him. She wrote that Lt. Kacsuta began screaming at her, saying things such as "He's in [expletive] court, that's where the [expletive] he's at."

Officer Ferretti wrote that she told the lieutenant that departmental rules prohibited her from swearing at her, after which point the lieutenant said she was bordering insubordination. At that point, according to the letter, she requested the presence of another police supervisor.

She wrote that in other instances Lt. Kacsuta has made comments to her that she described as "derogatory" and sometimes referred to her as "Cinda Drama" in front of other officers.

"I truly believe that Lt. Kacsuta feels the way she treats and humiliates subordinates is acceptable and is condoned by the department as well as OMI who refused to take this complaint, namely [OMI director Kathy] Kraus who referred to this type of behavior as co-workers squabble," Officer Ferretti wrote.

Officer Ferretti and Ms. Kraus declined to comment, as did Zone 5 Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor. Lt. Kacsuta did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The letter was sent to acting police Chief Regina McDonald and representatives from the Personnel & Civil Service Commission, OMI, the police union and the Citizen Police Review Board.

Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, acknowledged receiving the letter and said she will present it to the board at its meeting this month. The board may choose whether to hear the complaint, she said.

Representatives from the other groups either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

neigh_city

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


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