Experts who take a hard line in dealing with police officers accused of domestic violence recommend steps like temporarily putting alleged abusers on desk duty, taking away their guns, or forbidding contact with their accusers. Pittsburgh employs none of those techniques, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Protection from abuse orders (PFA’s) are a civil matter, and the department essentially cedes discretion to the court over how to handle the situation.
The issue is now front and center in Pittsburgh, where at least 34 current officers have been defendants in PFAs. Top brass recently promoted three officers whose histories included accusations of domestic abuse that did not include protection orders. Hubert Williams, who ran the Newark Police Department in New Jersey for 11 years and is president of the Police Foundation think tank, expressed surprise that police brass in Pittsburgh are not more proactive. “If we’re going to let the courts decide whether the officer’s conduct was appropriate, it’s problematic,” he said. In Baltimore, a protection order filed against an officer merits a suspension while the situation is sorted out internally. “If someone has issued a protective order against you we cannot in good faith allow you to walk around and carry a weapon,” police spokeswoman Officer Nicole Monroe said.