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Pittsburgh deputy police chief tells officers in email: 'Stop rumors. Stop whining,' in wake of Harper case

| Friday, March 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Pittsburgh deputy police chief says he is “troubled” by officers who are creating low morale by spreading false information about the bureau's recent problems.

“I am troubled by the response of some of our officers to the recent events that have impacted the bureau,” Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson wrote in an email obtained by the Tribune-Review.

“What is alarming to me, are those officers who are trying to destroy us from within,” he wrote. “Who spread falsehoods about fellow officers and are envious of what others have or are perceived to have.

“Stop the rumors. Stop the whining. Stop the baseless accusations. Stop the self defeating attitude,” Donaldson wrote. “You did nothing wrong and you have nothing to be ashamed of. Your friends don't need excuses and your enemies won't accept them.”

The “events” to which Donaldson referred in his email include the recent five-count federal indictment against former police Chief Nate Harper.

The head of the police union said Donaldson's attempt to restore morale “is long overdue.”

“I think this is the first attempt at real leadership that I've seen in a long time,” said Michael LaPorte, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1.

LaPorte said Donaldson's email has been circulated throughout the bureau. Several officers said they received the email on Thursday afternoon but declined to comment.

Donaldson could not be reached for comment.

“I think he (Donaldson) is trying to get the rank-and-file to focus on doing their jobs instead of worrying about the problems the bureau is facing,” LaPorte said. “He realizes that a lot of the information that is going out is filled with half truths, which ends up making everybody look bad.”

Harper, 60, of Stanton Heights is accused of setting up two secret police credit-union accounts with more than $70,000 in checks and cash payments from bars, restaurants, construction firms and other businesses that hire off-duty officers.

The indictment states that Harper spent nearly $32,000 from the slush fund for “personal use” on meals, alcohol, movies, a TV, gift cards and other items. In addition to diverting public money, Harper is accused of failing to file tax returns on his six-figure salary for four years.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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