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Friday, January 8, 2010

Ravenstahl statement on Hlavac

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 9:48 AM

I've expressed some misgivings about this move before. And it'll be interesting to see how Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's attempt to extend his domestic-abuse policy to all employees goes over. While domestic-abuse is a crime no matter who commits it, I'd argue that police need to be subjected to stricter scrutiny than, say, a parks worker.

I'm a lefty, which means I'm a feminist. But it also means I support due process for the accused. As we saw with the Hlavac case, there's good reason to provide extra protections when police stand accused of a crime. (Hlavac's ex-girlfriend took her fears to police outside the city, apparently out of fear that the city's own police couldn't fairly investigate one of their own.) But do we necessarily feel such protections are necessary for the guy emptying the garbage cans? Are we concerned that this is overcompensating for Ravenstahl's ill-advised decision to promote Hlavac in the first place? I'm not sure. But I think it warrants discussion, anyway. 

In the meantime, here's the city's statement on the decision to terminate Sergeant Eugene Hlavac:

(PITTSBURGH) January 7, 2010   Public Safety Director Michael Huss today terminated Pittsburgh Police Sergeant Eugene Hlavac following an internal investigation into his Dec. 19th arrest in which he was charged with the crime of aggravated assault for dislocating the jaw of his former girlfriend.
 
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today issued the following statement:
 
"Officer Hlavac was suspended following his arrest, and a thorough internal OMI investigation was conducted. Investigators interviewed witnesses and heard Mr. Hlavac's account of the story. Mr. Hlavac was also given the opportunity to explain the incident to Public Safety Director Michael Huss.  In this case, the evidence revealed by the internal investigation speaks for itself and Mr. Hlavac has been officially terminated effective today.  Our zero-tolerance domestic abuse policy has worked to protect the public from those who are placed in positions of trust, and abuse that trust.
 
Most all of our City employees do great work on behalf of the residents, and it is a shame that the actions of a few, affect the good work of the whole. One of my main duties as Mayor is to make sure that residents feel safe in the presence of all City employees, be it an officer, a Citiparks employee, a school crossing guard, a firefighter, or a snow plow truck operator. Tomorrow, I will be introducing to City Council an ordinance which expands our zero-tolerance domestic abuse policy to all City employees.
 
It is my goal to maintain and continue to build a reliable and quality workforce. In April of 2008, I implemented the City's first-ever policy for pre-employment and promotional background investigations. We are in productive discussions with the City's fire union and will soon be implementing mandatory drug testing for City firefighters.
 
Domestic abuse is a crime, and by expanding our zero-tolerance policy Citywide, implementing mandatory background investigations on City employees, and conducting drug tests on City firefighters, we are restoring the public's trust and confidence in the good work that our employees perform each and every day in our neighborhood streets."
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