The head of Pittsburgh's police union has a filed complaint against the city, saying it discriminated against him for speaking out.
Bob Swartzwelder says he was singled out and punished for just doing his job as leader of the Fraternal Order of Police.
In a complaint filed with the state labor relations board, he accuses the city of unlawfully discriminating against him for speaking out in his union role.
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“We believe that's a clear interference with coercion, restraint of his rights under the law,” said union attorney Eric Stoltenberg.
It began last summer when Swartzwelder sent an email to union members about the trial of former officer Stephen Matakovich, who was convicted of excessive force during an arrest at Heinz Field captured on surveillance video.
In that email, Swartzwelder was highly critical of the prosecution: “Landmark Security made up facts and changed several perspectives to serve in my opinion an unscrupulous U.S. Attorneys office prosecution. I am truly at a loss for words that this case was permitted outside of a departmental review. There was NEVER any criminal intent here.”
The department called the conduct unbecoming of an officer and ordered Swartzwelder to undergo counseling. Swartzwelder then filed the complaint with the labor relations board and they have agreed to hear the case.
Stoltenberg contends the law is clear, and Swartzwelder is protected.
“You are picking out the union president for engaging in activity that is protected and you’re saying, ‘We are going to discipline you for this,’” Stoltenberg said.
Swartzwelder wants the disciplinary action cleared from his record.
The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. Channel 11 also reached out to Landmark Security and the city of Pittsburgh, but hasn't heard back from them.
The hearing is set for April.
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