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Police recruit panels prompts concern

on June 15, 2013 10:50 AM

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh police officers selected to sit on panels that interview and evaluate recruits include one officer who is under internal investigation over holding a second full-time job and three others whose use of force has prompted scrutiny or a lawsuit, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the officers were listed among 56 evaluators and alternates in an internal memo that it obtained.

The 56 officers were chosen to sit on 10 three-member panels to hear oral exams later this month, it reported.

City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said anyone controversial should not be considered for the panels right now, especially while a federal investigation into the police bureau is continuing.

Kail-Smith said she emailed city officials, including Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, seeking an explanation for how the panelists were chosen.

“I said, ‘Are you suggesting that we could not find a few folks to serve without any controversy circulating around them currently?’” Kail-Smith told the Post-Gazette. “Unless they’re going to tell me there’s a certain set of criteria that only these people met, I see no excuse for it.”

The revelation comes 18 months after Pittsburgh police officials allowed a convicted felon still on probation to spend two days helping evaluate potential recruits, the Post-Gazette reported.

The city’s acting police chief, Regina McDonald, defended officers on the list as hard-working and professional. The police bureau sought input from multiple supervisors while evaluating candidates, McDonald said.

“There is no reason they shouldn’t be on the list,” she said.

An assistant chief originally sent an April 24 message to the bureau seeking volunteers.

Eligible officers must have at least seven years with Pittsburgh police and be in good standing. Several volunteers were rejected either because they hadn’t served long enough or because they had “personnel issues,” McDonald said.

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