Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Chastises Police At Anti-Trump Protest

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (billpeduto.com)

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Chastises Police At Anti-Trump Protest

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto apologized Thursday for “yelling” at police officers who were involved in a potentially volatile situation while dealing with an increasingly dangerous crowd. Police say however that the mayor, who is neither trained nor certified to make police decisions, placed the officers safety in jeopardy and had opened the door for more dangerous situations to occur.

The “anti-Trump” protests took place Wednesday evening as a result of the outcome of the presidential election. Because of the fact that the protest was done without a permit (which is required in order to ensure that proper assets are in place to facilitate the activity) law enforcement officers had to scramble to ensure the safety of not only the protesters, but the citizens who were not a part of it.

This protest in particular, like many in other parts of the country, had the potential to turn dangerous at any given moment. Mayor Peduto, whose policies and political ideology are to the far left, is apparently of the belief that the city can permit protesters to amass in the middle of public roadways whenever they want, placing a strain on police in terms of personnel and resources and risking the safety of police and communities.

Pittsburgh Police Officer and FOP Lodge 1 President Robert Swartzwelder, a certified police instructor, spoke to Blue Lives Matter regarding the incident.

“What we learned, and we learned this over many years is that there’s two parts to any crowd control operation,” Officer Swartzwelder said. “Part one of a crowd control operation is that we have cops facilitating the orderly movement and vehicular passage in and around that area. Part two of that is if the crowd turns, and you are paid as a law enforcement officer to understand that the crowds can turn violent, you need to have a response force. That’s what happened here.”

Initially the officers were in control, but because of the nature of these types of protests, the dynamic can change in an instant.

“So part one was working great, it was orderly”, said Officer Swartzwelder. “But the problem with non-permitted protests, you don’t know who’s going to show up. So you can have anarchists or violent people that show up there. So like Dallas, who were having unplanned protests, who jumps in? A sniper.”

Five officers were shot and killed and nine others injured during a July 7 “protest” in Dallas.

Officer Swartzwelder said that as the crowd approached a nearby hospital, they began to turn violent. “They’re starting to throw rocks and objects at the cops. The cops now pull in part two, so they’re protected with helmets and other gear. So here comes the escalation of force (because of the violent nature in which the crowd had turned). The crowd dynamics are changing, we need to change our tactics so now they slide in to phase two.”

As the situation became increasingly more violent and disorderly, the police used smoke to attempt to disperse the crowd. After a period of time and because of the tactics used by the well-trained police on the scene, the crowd was becoming subdued and began to disperse.

It was at that point, according to Officer Swartzwelder, that the mayor arrived. Instead of showing a concern for his officers in this potentially volatile situation, he began to chastise them in front of the crowd. Pittsburgh Police Commander Ed Trapp, a highly-trained veteran supervisor of many protests including the 2009 G20 summit, was the subject of his ire.

The Mayor of Pittsburgh, who without a police briefing on the situation, no training or experience to assess such matters, began to publicly berate his commander and officers in front of the now subdued but still potentially hostile crowd.

Peduto later told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that he had received text messages and pictures from the scene, presumably from those protesting. “I was hot last night”, he said.

“If the president of the FOP has a problem with how I work with my command staff, whether it’s in the Department of Public Safety, or it’s in Public Works, or my own office, then we have a very strong difference of opinions,” he told the Trib.

Although the mayor reportedly has since apologized to Commander Trapp, Officer Swartzwelder and the officers of the department in general are concerned that further restrictions will be placed on them in the future from a mayor neither trained nor certified to make such decisions. He promised to take the mayor to court in order to protect their officers.

“We will not put officers in jeopardy for his personal and political catering to special interests”, Officer Swartzwelder told Blue Lives Matter.

We stand behind you.

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