Mayor voices concerns about police promotions
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Following an hour-long meeting with police brass, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today that the promotions last week of three police officers with domestic issues were "unacceptable" and that the procedures for approving upgrades in rank are "obsolete and unacceptable."
"Over the course of the next two days, we're going to draft policies and put them in place" that will define when the police chief can and should pass over a candidate for promotion, Mr. Ravenstahl said. "Sergeants and lieutenants are promoted now without the ability for the mayor to say yes or no, either way."
He said he knew of the well-publicized past of freshly minted Cmdr. George Trosky, but not about recent incidents involving new Lt. Charles Rodriguez or Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac.
"I let the chief know that he should have communicated that to me," Mr. Ravenstahl said.
Chief Nate Harper had no comment after leaving the meeting.
Mr. Ravenstahl said that he and staff will discuss whether to reverse any of the promotions, how to better involve the Citizen Police Review Board, the mayor's proper role in approving promotions, and other aspects of policy, and would have answers Thursday.
Current rules give the chief some latitude in choosing some candidates over others for promotion. For instance, if two people are to be promoted to sergeant, the chief must choose from the top five qualified candidates, but doesn't have to pick the top two.
The Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh Women's Commission will meet tomorrow with Mr. Ravenstahl and Chief Harper to discuss the promotions. Commission members have received an e-mail inviting them to the meeting at 10 a.m. in the Mayor's Office.
The meeting will precede by one day a 1:30 p.m. public hearing on the promotions in Council Chambers. Council voted today to televise that hearing.
The three promotions occured June 18 and have stirred a firestorm of criticism.
Lt. Rodriguez was promoted from sergeant, despite a pending criminal case in Ingram, where police charged him with simple assault for an April incident with his daughter.
Sgt. Hlavac was elevated from patrolman, though he was the subject of two police responses to his home this year after he argued with his girlfriend.
Cmdr. Trosky went from homicide detective to commander. He was arrested in 1997 for breaking his then-wife's nose and drunken driving. The former charge was dropped when his ex-wife did not show up in court.
The women's commission's chair, Cynthia McCormick, is also a member of the city Civil Service Commission. She was the lone vote on the three-member civil service panel against a rule change allowing detectives to become commanders and therefore against Cmdr. Trosky's promotion. Civil Service Commission members Ken Fulton and Joseph Kennedy voted for both measures.
First Published June 26, 2007 11:41 am