20,000 signatures reached
To: Pittsburgh City Officials
Fire the Corrupt Cop Who Heads Pittsburgh’s Police Union
We, the people of Pittsburgh utterly reject the culture of police corruption emblazoned by the Fraternal Order of Police President Robert Swartzwelder.
We call on Pittsburgh officials to immediately relieve him of duty as a Pittsburgh police officer and to investigate and hold accountable any of his superior officers who failed to stop him from obstructing investigations into police shootings of civilians.
Why is this important?
“Deliberate Malfeasance.” “Utter disregard” for police ethical standards. That’s how a grand jury described the behavior of Robert Swartzwelder -- head of Pittsburgh’s biggest police union -- after they found that he interfered with at least two investigations into police shootings of civilians.
Swartzwelder, a rank and file police officer, used his power as head of the police union to stop investigators from collecting evidence at the scene of the shootings and prevent the involved officers from being interviewed. Swartzwelder orchestrated a cover-up that kept investigators from determining if the shootings were justified and whether the officers who pulled the trigger should be held accountable.
To make matters worse, Swartzwelder’s superior officers on the police force did nothing to stop him. They simply stood by as he obstructed a police investigation -- not one person had the courage to tell him to stand down.
Corruption like this is a cancer within police departments: If you don’t eliminate it, it spreads throughout the culture of the force. Police unions are central to the culture of corruption, routinely working to block any accountability for police officers. If we want good, accountable policing that truly serves the public, we can’t just pass new laws. We have to fire police officers who break the law and abuse their power, and confront police unions when they perpetuate a culture of corruption and impunity.
Only then will the Police Bureau’s culture evolve from one that tolerates corruption to one that demands accountability. That’s why we’re calling on Pittsburgh’s Mayor, City Council, and Police Chief to do what’s right for the culture of the police force and the people of Pittsburgh: Fire Robert Swartzwelder now.