Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Don't Worry Your Pretty Little Head"

That is essentially the response of the Police Department, to concerns about promoting three officers who stand accused, or have stood accused, of domestic abuses.

The P-G's Jonathan D. Silver asked questions, and here are the responses he received:

"The only commonality with these three is the fact that they're just recently promoted. Would the community ask that they not be promoted?"

"It doesn't have to tell the public anything. You know what the problem is with police officers? What we make of them. They're human beings, and just like other human beings, they have problems. It doesn't mean they're not good police officers."

"I just want to kind of keep this to myself. It's a family issue that's blown out of proportion"

"I have no further comment on that. It's a private issue. My family's aware of what happened. If that's all the press has to do is look into my private life then it must be a slow news day."

WPXI's Rick Earle gets a big "No comment" from the department.

WTAE's Bob Mayo has police union president Jim Malloy reminding us that all families occasionally need the police and the courts to get involved in domestic disputes, don't they?

We were told recently that domestic abuse by police is "not an uncommon situation." How not uncommon are we talking? Is this something we just have to accept, considering the thin blue line?


City Council President Doug Shields said the promotions raised questions, especially in light of a 1997 federal consent decree the Pittsburgh Police Bureau signed after the U.S. Justice Department said it could prove a "pattern and practice" of police misconduct. The decree has since been lifted.

"It's very important that, in my opinion, you would not want to reopen and revisit the door by bringing these promotions forward at this time," Mr. Shields said.

"Hopefully, they distinguish themselves. Hopefully, they are the best police officers in the world," he continued. "But the unfortunate thing is that the public isn't going to view it that way, and it's going to raise eyebrows, and it begins to question the integrity of what we're trying to do here as a city."

Mr. Shields said he hoped Mayor Luke Ravenstahl "would more fully vet the candidate, or more fully discuss, or give a good reason as to why this would happen. It's one more thing for this administration to have to answer to." (P-G: Silver and Rich Lord)

We have been struggling with how to approach this, but Doug Shields nailed it already.

The Comet can not possibly sit in judgement of these three officers. We don't know the truth of the allegations, and we never will.

We can say with utter certainty, however, that it is our business to express some misgivings, and to ask questions. In fact, it is central to a lot of what is going on right now in this city.

Let's not kid each other -- the police are already under a cloud or two. Accusations of cronyism and self-saving cover-ups are commonplace. Their reputation in some minority districts is even worse, hampering our ability to clean up these neighborhoods.

To respond to these legitimate questions with such high-handed imperiousness -- "It must be a slow news day" -- is to feed our very worst perceptions. To have triggered such concerns in the first place, by making these controversial promotions, could have been a real mistake.

No comments:

Post a Comment