Pittsburgh’s police union expressed no confidence in its police chief Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly against Police Chief Cameron McLay.
Close to 60 percent of city’s 759 active-duty officers voted Wednesday, and 421 voted “no confidence in McLay. Sixteen expressed their support for the chief while 22 abstained. The officers are members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No 1.
McLay has had a rocky relationship with the rank and file officers ever since he assumed the position in 2014. McLay upset members of the union when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in July while wearing his police uniform.
Police union leadership alleged that McLay’s appearance in uniform was the equivalent of campaigning, which would be in violation of the city code and the police department’s code of conduct. After a public spat and investigation, and independent board ruled that the police chief did not violate any rule or law by attending and speaking at the DNC.
McLay said that resistance is normal whenever police chiefs try to implement significant changes to policing. The embattled chief has been criticized by officers for supporting groups such as Black Lives Matter and other activist groups that paint police officers as racist.
The reform-oriented chief retweeted a picture in July 2015 that showed him holding a sign that read, “I resolve to challenge racism work #EndWhiteSilence.” The union said posing with the sign violated police department social media policy and unfairly portrayed police officers. An internal watchdog reviewed the tweet and did not issue a disciplinary recommendation.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto issued a statement in support of McLay, and said that, “I stand with Chief McLay and the men and women of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police who are working hard, every day, to reform the bureau. Change is never easy, but we remain committed to seeing it through.”
Union president Robert Swartzwelder told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that union members asked for the vote.
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