The Pittsburgh police chief at the time of the 2005 handcuffing of now-Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said yesterday that the incident should've been documented and that the mayor erred by arguing with an officer and then not going public with the details sooner.But wait. Wasn't the "Pittsburgh police chief at the time of the 2005 handcuffing" Robert McNeilly? And isn't Robert McNeilly married to Catherine McNeilly? And doesn't Catherine McNeilly have a case pending against the city? So we can pretty much lump Chief McNeilly in with all the other politically motivated critics, right?
Mayor Luke does:
But then again the mayor has a habit of labelling any criticism as "politically motivated." But let's take a look at what Chief McNeilly said:
The mayor responded that former chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr.'s comments are proof that the rumors that long swirled around the Halloween handcuffing were a political smear campaign.
"I made my comments yesterday that I think there are political people behind it," the mayor said, a day after giving his account of the incident. "I think some of those that came forward today just vindicate and validate my belief that this is politically motivated."
And the executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board agrees.
"In a high-profile situation, everybody up the chain of command should've been notified," he said. That is the case even if the officer is working a private security job, as was Officer Hoehn.
"Some documentation should've been made," Chief McNeilly said.
"If they released him, they should've explained why they [handcuffed him]." Otherwise, he said, "Ravenstahl could've made the accusation that he was falsely arrested. That's a criminal, as well as civil, issue."
"There should've, at minimum, been a field contact report," said Elizabeth C. Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board. "This guy was restrained. He identified himself as an official. ... Just by virtue of that, they should've made a note of it."As far as I know, Pittinger has none of the baggage that McNeilly (either McNeilly) has. That should at least dampen the sound of Luke's defenders as they shout "politically motivated!"
The Trib's got the story too.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl should have asked for an investigation into the police officer who handcuffed him before a 2005 Steelers game at Heinz Field, the city's former top cop said today.
"Something strange was happening there. There was no documentation and no notification to superior officers. And no complaint about the officer's conduct," said former police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr. "This disappoints me. Any time you would have a public official put in handcuffs and detained, it should have made it up the chain of command."
No complaints about the incident were made to the Citizens Police Review Board or the city Office of Municipal Investigations.
"The way this was handled raises a lot of questions," said review board Executive Director Beth Pittinger. "Even if Ravenstahl was not told he was under arrest, he wasn't free to go. You would expect that since this situation involved a public official it would have generated some kind of report or paperwork. And as a public official, if Ravenstahl had a concern about the conduct of a police officer, there are places to go to lodge a complaint. But he didn't do that."
I heard McNeilly say this on the radio yesterday:
Chief McNeilly said he was speaking out not because he was sore about his wife's demotion, but because the mayor put him in a bad position by not confronting rumors of the incident when they began swirling after the distribution of an anonymous fax in October. Chief McNeilly said reporters contacted him months ago about the incident, and he told them it was "urban legend."He said on the radio that when he was questioned about the handcuffing incident, he gave the mayor "benefit of the doubt." See? This is what happens when an elected official misleads the public. Everyone under that official is then forced (either knowingly or not) to also mislead the public.
"If he had been forthright with the media then, nobody would have come to me about it, and I wouldn't have looked like I didn't know what was going on," the chief said.
This city deserves much much better.