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Strip club, police union to fight for security

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 12:25 a.m.

A strip club and the police union are promising to fight Pittsburgh acting police Chief Regina McDonald's decision to forbid off-duty police officers from working security details at strip clubs.

Attorney Jonathan Kamin, who represents the Downtown strip club Blush, vowed to take the city to court.

"We're disappointed that the chief chose to unilaterally decide to violate our rights and the protection of speech," Kamin said. "We hope she will reverse the policy. Police have been there on weekends for 48 years."

McDonald notified Blush and Cheerleaders Gentlemen's Club in the Strip District this week that they no longer are allowed to hire off-duty officers.

When questioned in February about permitting officers to work such details, she said she planned to review the issue with the city law department.

"Officers are prohibited from working secondary employment at any location that may tend to bring the bureau into disrepute," Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said on Friday. "A determination was made that establishments that provide entertainment of a sexual nature meet this criteria."

FOP Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 President Michael LaPorte said the union is in the process of filing a grievance over how the decision was handled.

"With any policy changes, (McDonald) has to notify the union," LaPorte said. "She just unilaterally changed policy. The only way we know is because we read it in the paper."

A bureau-wide notice was issued alerting officers that the approved secondary employment status was revoked.

Kamin said he hopes the police who regularly work the detail will show up for the weekend. If McDonald refuses to lift the ban, he said, he likely will ask a judge early next week for an injunction to block implementation of the policy.

"Unless we find out there's a reversal of policy, we will go to court," Kamin said.

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

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