Women’s rights activists in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have galvanized over the recent promotion of three police officers with histories of domestic violence. Despite admitting that he was aware of one of the promoted officers’ violent record, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced on Friday that he will not demote any of the three officers. Women’s rights groups, including local National Organization for Women (NOW) chapters, the National Council of Jewish Women, the joint city-county Women’s Commission, the Executive Women’s Council, and the League of Independent Voters, have called for the reversal of all three promotions.
Police Commander George Trosky, who was promoted from his position as detective, was charged with breaking his ex-wife’s nose during a domestic assault. His then-wife did not appear in court, so he was never found guilty. Additionally, Trosky’s record includes a DUI, which was later dismissed though the incident did result in a demotion, and an internal charge for using excessive force when he beat up a fan at a rock concert. Lieutenant Charles Rodriguez, who was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, was charged in April for hitting his daughter. Finally, police were called twice to the home of Sergeant Eugene F. Hlavac, who previously served as a patrolman, for fights he had with his girlfriend.
While Mayor Ravenstahl did not demote the three officers, he has pledged to implement “a new policy that will set a standard of zero tolerance for domestic abuse.” Women’s rights activists, including National Organization for Women activist Jeanne Clark, however, are skeptical. Of the proposed policy, Clark said, “I think it’s a lot of promises but very little action.” She continued, saying that a coalition of women’s rights groups is looking into other methods by which to force the state into action. “The FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] isn’t the only one that can sue,” Clark told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Because of local activists’ immediate actions, City Council President Doug Shields agreed to hold televised public hearings on the matter. In addition to the promotions given to police officers with violent pasts, women’s rights advocates are also concerned about the direction of the police force. Only one of the mayor’s 10 police promotions to date has been a woman and the percentage of women in the police academy has dropped from around 50 percent to well under 10 percent.
Mass media attention is also being drawn to Canton, Ohio, where — not even 100 miles away from Pittsburgh — a police officer has been accused of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Bobby Cutts, Jr., who was sentenced to three years’ probation after breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s home and being charged with disorderly conduct in 1998, has been ordered held on a $5 million bond.