Hearing set for strip club Blush's lawsuit to allow Pittsburgh police to work off-duty

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A federal judge today scheduled a hearing on arguments that the city of Pittsburgh has violated the constitutional rights of a Downtown strip club by barring police from working moonlight security details there.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer set April 25 as the date to hear the plea of the owners of Blush for a preliminary injunction overturning acting police Chief Regina McDonald's order making such venues ineligible for the services of off-duty officers.

Blush's owners filed a motion on April 5 claiming they are suffering irreparable harm from the ban because weekend customers don't feel as secure as they did when uniformed officers manned the front door.

On Friday, Assistant City Solicitor Wendy Kobee filed a response indicating that even though private businesses pay for off-duty officers, "the Bureau of Police retains the right to either approve or disapprove a request."

A work rule that bars police from taking side jobs that "may tend to bring the Bureau of Police into disrepute" or that involve "entertainment or services of a sexual nature" doesn't violate the club's First Amendment rights of free expression, Ms. Kobee maintained.

She also argued that "the public interest in permitting [the city] to manage its workforce in accordance with well recognized legal standards for officer conduct would outweigh Plaintiff's desire to maintain the status quo relative to the appearance of its security detail."

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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