What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 5, 2007

Pgh. City Council Hearing on Police Promotions & Domestic Violence

WHAT: Post Agenda Hearing on Police & Domestic Violence (Followup to the Public Hearing held in June)
WHEN: Monday, September 10, 2007, 1:30 PM
WHERE: Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, City-County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (Corner of Grant & Forbes, 5th Floor)

From the official media advisory:
At the specific request of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other women's rights organizations, the Post Agenda Hearing before Pittsburgh City Council on domestic violence and the police has been set for Monday, September 10, 2007 at 1:30 PM in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, Fifth Floor, City-County Building, 414 Grant St. in Pittsburgh.

"Thanks to an extraordinary commitment from Council President Doug Shields and his staff, as well as volunteers and staff from throughout the women's rights community, this post agenda hearing will provide the best guidance available to create new policies for the police and the city of Pittsburgh to eliminate the scourge of domestic violence," said Jeanne K.C. Clark of the Squirrel Hill Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

"Pittsburghers – both women and men – were outraged when three of the four recent police promotions went to officers with histories of domestic violence," continued Clark. "But the official police response that this was a private matter, and that these officers were only human, was even worse, showing the ignorance of the police leadership on the often fatal issue of domestic violence. It was clear to that serious education and policy changes were necessary to make Pittsburgh a city in which women can feel safe.

"Hundreds of hours of planning and discussion have gone into creating the agenda for this hearing, and nationally respected leaders will be testifying on the issues of domestic violence generally, and how police should be recruited, trained and supervised," continued Clark. "None of this would have been possible without the support and work of Council President Shields and his staff. And this is just the beginning – after the hearing, we expect to offer specific policy changes to prevent any recurrence of the promotions, and to move Pittsburgh's government into the forefront of enlightened polices on domestic violence."

The public is urged to attend the hearing on Monday. As a post agenda hearing, there will be no provision for citizens to testify, but there will be an opportunity for Pittsburghers to communicate their concerns to their elected officials.
I've heard that there are currently some 30 Pittsburgh police officers who have PFA's out against them that we know of. I say "that we know of" because unlike many other cities, Pittsburgh does not do random checks of court records to know if a police officer has a domestic violence problem. This despite the fact that a 1996 federal law prohibits individuals -- including police officers -- from owning or using a firearm if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense.

Moreover, Pittsburgh does not distinguish between domestic violence and other violent crimes in their record keeping so no one can even say how big a problem this is in our city.

Our, um, "inattentiveness" to this problem not only hurts the citizens of Pittsburgh, it also hurts the good police officers and detectives who are passed over for promotions which go to police who don't deserve them.

And, while it's terrifying for any woman to have an abusive partner, imagine how much more terrifying it is for a woman who's partner is allowed to carry a weapon and knows where the women's shelters are and that the woman would have to report the crime to their partner's buddies and coworkers.

If anyone needs any more convincing on how bad it can get for women when a cop goes bad, I suggest you check out recent stories on a Pennsylvania State trooper who used his position to stalk women or the RI woman who when she reported her own rape to the police had the officer who she was accusing of rape show up to take her report. Perhaps not surprisingly, he left out any mention of himself being the accused rapist in his report.


Heir to the Throne said...

And I thought you gu-control nanny stater's had all the faith in the world when it comes to the police.

Sherry said...

some day, you will look back on your attitudes and be ashamed of yourself.
i can only hope that you are young.
it's obvious that you've never been touched in your lifetime by someone that's been raped.

Gloria said...

There are many who volunteered much time behind the scenes to make this Post Agenda a reality. It took almost one month just to get it scheduled, which is much longer than it typically takes Council to decide to hold a Post Agenda.

Were it not for the individuals and organizations who steadfastly remained adamant that a Post Agenda be held, there wouldn't have been one.

I hope that many of you can attend, whether for 1/2 hr. or for the entire session. Elected officials pay more attention when large groups of voters assemble.

In 2003 the Seattle Post -Intelligencer did a blood chilling series of articles on cases in which the batterers were police officers. "Badge of Dishonor" at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/131879_cops23.html

Maria said...

If you read The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society, you know that Gloria was one of the woman who fought hard to ensure that a post agenda happened.

Thanks, Gloria! And, thanks to everyone involved.

Sherry said...

yes gloria, thank you so much.

Ol' Froth said...

There is a difference between having a PFA out against someone and being convicted of domestic violence. So it wouldn't be terribly suprising that some officers with active PFA's are continuing to work.

If however, they're convicted, it would be impossible for them to continue in their current capacity.

PFA's routinly require a surrender of any firearms OWNED by the subject, but who owns the city officers' sidearms? Is it the officer, or the city? I see a possible loophole there.

Gloria said...

As I understand it, if the officer's using a city issued gun his commander is supposed to keep it & only allowing the officer to use it while he's on duty.

In light of the poor judgement exhibited by upper level PD staff in the three recent promotions, I'd say that this is not the best way to handle the situation.

Maria said...

I understand your point, however my point is still that we don't know how many police officers have been convicted of domestic abuse because the police do not routinely check court records like other cities do. It's all SELF REPORTED. It's a wonder that we even know that 30 of them have PFAs out against them.

I mean who's going to self report something that will get them fired???

Maria said...

(Sorry, the "Froth," part got cut off of my comment above.)

Anonymous said...

There is a police officer, in Leetsdale, that has a PFA against him. Weapons also included in the PFA. We all know about it in town and he is still working and bragging! I am sure his countless weapons at home or his vehicle are still with him. When served with a PFA he, I am sure, said that he only had one gun in the house and one that will be kept at work. PFA's are served by another policeman...You do the math!
His wife has the Leetsdale support even thought they don't live in town!

Anonymous said...

In respoce to anonymous posting re Leetsdale Police officer with the PFA for fact he does have far more than one gun in the house.