Share This Page

Acting police chief vows to fix off-duty policies

| Saturday, March 9, 2013, 12:12 a.m.

Acting Pittsburgh police Chief Regina McDonald vowed on Friday to clean up the off-duty employment system that has triggered both a federal grand jury investigation into cop corruption and the forced resignation of Nate Harper, her former boss.

Echoing what Public Safety Director Mike Huss told the Tribune-Review on Thursday, McDonald said she plans next week to convene a panel composed of command staffers, police academy director Lt. Jennifer Ford and leaders from the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents most of the 850-officer force.

Critics, especially within the Fraternal Order of Police union, allege some schedulers and the Special Events section sometimes play favorites, distributing jobs to friends and family. They also claim that a “Detail Mafia” inside the department gave select cops a jump on the best off-duty jobs and that the city used the administrative surcharges as a “for-profit” means of subsidizing operations.

“They can request all the help they want from us, but it's the command staff who was responsible for the money that was diverted from these offices. It's the command staff who determined where officers would work and which jobs were approved,” said Officer Bob Swartzwelder, an FOP Labor Management committeeman.

The union wants the city to gut the power of the “schedulers,” yank Special Events from the bureau, give the City Controller's Office greater oversight of secondary employment and find a way to fairly award off-duty jobs to more officers.

The FOP also wants City Controller Michael Lamb on McDonald's reform committee. A Democratic candidate running to replace departing Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Lamb told the Trib that he'd be glad to join them.

The FOP is “absolutely right that the whole secondary detail process has to be removed from the bureau,” Lamb said. “The question becomes: Where does it go? It has to be somewhere that's completely independent from the bureau.”

Jeremy Boren and Carl Prine are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.