Pittsburgh police chief moves commander, bars officers from strip club work
Acting Pittsburgh police Chief Regina McDonald on Wednesday transferred a commander who criticized her publicly and barred officers from moonlighting as security for at least two strip clubs as part of an overhaul of secondary employment rules.
Chief McDonald reassigned narcotics Cmdr. Cheryl Doubt to oversight of the Central Records and Reports Unit, a decision that sources said angered her.
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard confirmed the transfer, which is effective March 25, but said she was not privy to any conversation between Cmdr. Doubt and Chief McDonald or any other chief. She said she does not know the reason for the transfer.
News of the move comes the same day that Cmdr. Doubt's comments were published in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story about the inappropriate use in 2009 by Chief McDonald of nearly $10,000 to buy Gatorade for officers during the G-20 Summit.
The Gatorade -- meant to hydrate officers -- was bought with proceeds from a narcotics forfeiture trust fund, which city law forbids being used for anything but investigations of narcotics violations.
Cmdr. Doubt told the Post-Gazette she was upset with then-Assistant Chief McDonald for misusing the funds.
Chief McDonald did not address questions about the transfer. Cmdr. Doubt did not return phone messages.
Last year, the police department began an internal investigation after a small amount of marijuana was found in Cmdr. Doubt's take-home police vehicle while it was being detailed.
Assistant Chief of Investigations George Trosky, who could not be reached Wednesday night, said at the time that police were investigating the possibility that the drug had been placed there by someone else. He said he did not believe the drugs belonged to her. The police bureau, to date, has not publicly said what its investigation found.
Chief McDonald issued a written statement that was sent internally to the police bureau's command staff and its roughly 100 lieutenants and sergeants.
The statement claimed "inaccuracies" in the newspaper's reporting but failed to address the 1987 law restricting use of the funds and a 2009 legal memo by the Law Department that reiterated the limitations and declared the purchase of Gatorade to be "inappropriate."
Separately, Chief McDonald on Wednesday barred officers from working side jobs as security for Blush, a Downtown strip club, and Cheerleaders in the Strip District.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 said a letter was sent directly to the businesses.
Officer Robert Swartzwelder, a member of the union's labor-management committee, described the decision as implementing a "morals clause" on a licensed business that pays taxes and "has no major criminal incidents related to that business."
He added that the policy denies officers the right to work and denies the strip clubs the same right to hire an officer that other licensed establishments have.
Richard Mauer, manager of Blush, said, "What I understand, they're not allowed to have any city officers here. We're not sure why, the particular reasons."
Blush has typically hired an officer for five hours each Friday and Saturday for the past eight years.
"We really liked having him here," Mr. Mauer said. "It's a great deterrent and provides really good security. No question, we'll miss it."
The police bureau, city council and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl have raised questions over the past two months about various aspects of officers' moonlighting.
Police officials have been rewriting the bureau's secondary employment policy.
"They have adopted a policy which has not been negotiated, failed to send the rule to the FOP for the mandatory ... review, and implemented the policy unilaterally without engaging in collective bargaining," Officer Swartzwelder said.
First Published March 14, 2013 12:00 am