Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay asked two agencies to investigate his appearance in uniform last week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia after his prime-time speech there raised the ire of the police union and drew allegations that he violated municipal code, the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette reports. The Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, an advisory body, had already launched an inquiry into McLay’s appearance. The code says officers are not permitted to “campaign for a candidate for any office or for a ballot issue while on duty, while wearing a uniform or while on City property” or while identifying as police bureau employee.
“I would say you’re wasting a lot of money and time and effort …” said Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 president Robert Swartzwelder. “First of all, he went there with permission of the mayor, obviously … He’s the only one that can discipline the chief. So why are you wasting a bunch of OMI investigators’ time and effort and money when the mayor’s already come out publicly saying there’s no wrongdoing?” Elizabeth Pittinger, the review board’s executive director, said the chief’s appearance onstage to discuss recent shootings of and by police, community relations and criminal justice reform demands a thorough analysis. Of critical importance, she said, is ensuring that there is not a double standard in how rank-and-file officers are treated compared with the chief. “The public deserves a full vetting of the controversy,” said Pittinger, who called it a “messy, messy thing.”