PITTSBURGH - The union representing Pittsburgh police officers has filed a civil rights grievance against the city, claiming officers have been ordered to undergo drug and alcohol testing that is in violation of their contract.
The union tells Channel 11’s Rick Earle that the testing amounts to an illegal search and seizure that is not only in violation of the contract, but the Constitution as well.
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“I don't know why the city suddenly changed the policy on this, and it's our position that this is an illegal search and seizure,” Bryan Campbell, an attorney representing the union, said.
According to the contract, tests are only allowed under three circumstances: If an officer is suspected of being under the influence while on the job, fires a weapon or is involved in a vehicle crash.
Sources tell Target 11 that an officer who was involved in a chase and crash last week on Baum Boulevard was ordered to submit to testing, even though he was not directly involved in the crash.
Another officer, from Zone 2 in the Hill District, who began a chase but then terminated was also sent for testing.
“They don't forfeit their constitutional rights to protect the city from a civil liability,” Campbell said.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay contends that the contract allows him to test officers involved in pursuits, regardless of whether they are directly involved in a crash.
“The reality is I consider us to have been involved,” McLay said. “We are going to interpret that policy as I believe it was intended and protect the officers, as well as the community, by verifying that the officer wasn't impaired.”
The complaint has been sent for review to the law department, which could force the police department to stop testing. If it does not, the complaint will go to arbitration.
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