PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay said he went to Philadelphia to plead for police and community reconciliation.
But, back home in Pittsburgh, he ran into a partisan battle with his police union over engaging in political activities, something the chief denied.
“I did not support any candidate,” said McLay. “I went to great lengths to say nothing but what I intended to say.”
But union head Bob Swartzwelder says McLay’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention violated the police bureau’s code of conduct.
“When a police officer engages in any type political activity in uniform, it demonstrates partisanship and it demonstrate partiality,” says Swartzwelder. “Police officers are neutral, and they’re not supposed to ever engage in that type of activity. Period.”
For Swartzwelder, the fact that McLay delivered the speech in uniform is a direct violation of the code and sets a precedent for dragging police into divisive politics.
“Suppose 250 police officers in uniform are standing down on the North Shore and a fellow walks along by the name of Donald Trump, and he says, ‘You mind if I stand right here and take a photo?’ Then, it goes viral,” says Swartzwelder.
McLay said his trip was paid for by either the Clinton campaign or the Democratic National Committee, but he did not know which one.
He said one or both pared down his remarks for time, but did not change his message that the police and the communities nationwide must resolve their differences and work together.
“There was no endorsing of any candidate. There was no endorsing of any particular objective,” said McLay. “I’m simply getting out the truth that needs to be said about what meaningful police reform needs to look like in this country out on a much broader scale.”
Swartzwelder also appeared on The Mike Pintek Show on KDKA Radio Wednesday. He said, “If you don’t think the DNC is a campaign for a candidate, I’ll just put it bluntly, you’re an idiot.”
He also said he had a problem with McLay’s comments about shootings involving police officers.
Swartzwelder said McLay is “trying to basically take all those controversial shootings, [and] make them a part of Pittsburgh’s problem, and that’s not true.”
Listen to the full interview here: