Police union boss disputes domestic violence measure

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Pittsburgh's police union charged yesterday that a proposed ordinance to address officer-involved domestic violence amounts to "police bashing" and "overkill."

City Council President Doug Shields, who proposed the bill, rejected the criticism and shot back: "The only thing I want to bash is domestic violence."

Fraternal Order of Police President James Malloy sent Mr. Shields a four-page letter dated Tuesday that claims the ordinance strips officers of their rights to due process.

"Let's slow this down. It's gone too far," Mr. Malloy said yesterday. "This is a one-sided, police-bashing situation, something he [Mr. Shields] promised me that it wouldn't go to."

Mr. Malloy disagreed with several portions of the bill, including one that would require supervisors to request psychological evaluations of officers who exhibit certain types of behavior.

He claimed the ordinance would leave officers "terrified" to argue with a spouse.

Mr. Shields disagreed that the bill would step on an officer's rights.

"Simply a report of something does not result in a drastic action," Mr. Shields said. "It requires an inquiry."

Mr. Shields' bill followed the June promotions of three officers who have faced allegations of domestic violence.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has identified 35 officers who have been the subject of protection-from-abuse orders since 1992.

Mr. Malloy called that a "minimal" number and said the vast majority of cases did not lead to criminal charges.

"I don't think we can afford as a community to continue to persecute a police officer because a PFA was filed against him and then withdrawn at a hearing," Mr. Malloy said.

In his letter, Mr. Malloy claimed that the bill is an overly strong reaction to the promotions and accused Mr. Shields of buckling under pressure exerted by women's groups demanding a policy change.

Mr. Shields denied he was caving in to any interest group and said police departments across the country are revamping their policies on officer-involved domestic violence.

Mr. Shields noted that provisions in his ordinance come straight from a model policy crafted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

That's part of the problem, as Mr. Malloy sees it. Pittsburgh does not need to implement someone else's policy, he said.

"We don't have that kind of problem here," Mr. Malloy said. "It's being pushed in a direction that the implication is we in the police have an epidemic of PFAs or assaults on spouses, and it's just not fair and it's not true."

Jonathan D. Silver can be reached at jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962.


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