Pittsburgh police officer will stay in zone despite threat against supervisor that was videotaped

| Friday, March 1, 2013, 11:51 p.m.

A Pittsburgh police sergeant whose threat to beat up a superior was captured on camera will return to his post over the protests of his commander.

“I'm just flabbergasted at what's happened with this one,” Zone 3 Cmdr. Catherine McNeilly said.

She said Sgt. Stephen Matakovich was backing up a patrol officer on a traffic stop at Route 51 and Warrington Avenue sometime after 2 a.m. Jan. 12 when he began complaining to the officer about Lt. Michael Hajduk, a supervisor in an adjoining zone. The complaints eventually escalated to threats against Hajduk.

The in-car camera captured the conversation and when Hajduk learned of it, he asked that Matakovich be transferred to another zone, McNeilly said. She said Matakovich, who works in her station in Allentown, had posted a threat against Hajduk on a Fraternal Order of Police online message board.

Hajduk declined to comment. Matakovich declined to comment through FOP Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1.

McNeilly recommended that Matakovich be demoted. Then-Chief Nate Harper recommended suspension and transferred Matakovich to Zone 5 in Highland Park. Matakovich appealed to Public Safety Director Michael Huss.

Huss reprimanded Matakovich and will allow him to return to Zone 3.

“I made a decision and I stand behind it,” Huss said Friday. “The FOP was a part of it.”

FOP President Michael LaPorte said transferring Matakovich as punishment violates the union's contract. The appeal to Huss followed protocol, he said.

“She's not satisfied with following orders,” LaPorte said of McNeilly. “It was done 100-percent by the book.”

McNeilly said there's been a “breakdown in accountability.”

“How do you manage them when you have no say in controlling something of this magnitude?” she said.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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