Give newly promoted police a chance, deputy chief says
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The public should give three newly promoted Pittsburgh police officers a chance despite the officers' histories of domestic abuse, Deputy Police Chief Paul Donaldson said yesterday.
Listen to excerpts of comments about the recent Pittsburgh police promotions:
Deputy Police Chief Paul James Donaldson
Donaldson's comments on George Trosky
Donaldson's comments on Charles Rodriguez
Donaldson's comments on Eugene Hlavac
Fraternal Order of Police President James Malloy
He also declined to provide information on the prevalence of domestic abuse issues in the bureau as a whole, though he said such matters are tracked and he's "sure it's no larger than other segments of the public."
"We're asking the public, particularly the women who are concerned about this: Take a good look at us," he said at a news conference. "How have we been in the past? We've been working with women on women's issues for years."
Women's organizations said they do work with the police but didn't endorse the promotions.
"The Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh has always had a very positive relationship with the city of Pittsburgh police," said Janet Scott, associate executive director of the haven for victims of abuse. The shelter helps train city police to respond to domestic calls.
Still, police should "take the crime of domestic abuse very seriously [and] hold the alleged batterers accountable," she said. "I think any law enforcer is held to a little higher standard, in that those who enforce the law should obey the law. This is a very serious crime, and we would like the police to take it seriously. And the majority of them do."
Charles Rodriguez was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant despite a criminal case in Ingram, where police charged him with simple assault for an April incident with his daughter.
Chief Donaldson said he was confident Lt. Rodriguez would be cleared, though he acknowledged that the city's Office of Municipal Investigations had not yet completed its own inquiry. "I am privy to other information on this case, which I cannot share with you," he said, calling it "excessive disciplining."
Eugene F. Hlavac, who was elevated to sergeant, was the subject of police responses to his home this year after he argued loudly with his girlfriend.
Chief Donaldson said Sgt. Hlavac was next in line for promotion from patrolman, and that his performance on the job outweighed the disputes. He would not confirm the existence of other OMI cases involving the new sergeant.
George T. Trosky went from homicide detective to commander, despite a 1997 arrest for breaking his then-wife's nose. The charge was dropped when his ex-wife did not show up in court, but he was still demoted from sergeant to patrolman.
"In fact, he was punished very severely for his behavior," Chief Donaldson said. "We cannot hold something like that against him forever."
Fraternal Order of Police President James Malloy said the union supports the officers.
"It isn't like they're mashers, running around beating somebody's brains in," he said. "They're not going in to be brain surgeons here. They're going in to be police officers. Just like you, and me, and everybody else, they make mistakes."
First Published June 21, 2007 11:31 pm