Archive

ShareThis Page
Pittsburgh officials resisted hiring police recruit later found to be wanted in Massachusetts | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Pittsburgh officials resisted hiring police recruit later found to be wanted in Massachusetts

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:01 a.m

City officials tried to stop a Pittsburgh police recruit from joining the force, but he won his appeal to be reconsidered for a job.

The Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission initially disqualified Elijah Hill, 36, of Crafton Heights because of an arrest for domestic violence and a failed lie detector test.

But Hill won an appeal in January and earned a spot on the list to be hired. He began training as a recruit on March 17.

Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, said the city has a zero tolerance policy on domestic violence for officers that should apply to recruits.

“Everything that’s been alleged about his background are major flags,” Pittinger said. “Certainly, there should have been pause and concern.”

The Tribune-Review reported that Pittsburgh police fired Hill on Thursday, about a month after discovering his decade-old felony warrant for an arrest in Massachusetts.

Despite conducting a background check, the city didn’t find the arrest warrant charging Hill with violating a restraining order and witness intimidation until Hill tried to purchase a service weapon from a gun store and was denied because of a background check.

He has a hearing on the charges in Essex County this month.

Hill did not return a message seeking comment on Friday but has told the Trib that he didn’t know about the Massachusetts arrest warrant.

Applicants for civil service jobs who are deemed ineligible or disqualified can appeal that determination at a public hearing before three civil service commissioners.

Hill told commissioners during his Jan. 6 hearing that when he returned from his Army service in Iraq in 2005, he began having sleep abnormalities and anxiety issues. He explained that he was given incorrect medication, but that it had been corrected.

He told the commissioners he went to counseling as a result of a domestic violence arrest in Crafton in 2010 and made amends with his wife.

Crafton police charged Hill with simple assault and providing false identification to law enforcement. The charges were withdrawn.

Civil service commissioners, who are mayoral appointees, granted Hill’s appeal. Commission President Joseph J. Kennedy IV declined to answer questions and referred comment to Todd Siegel, director of personnel and civil service. The other two commissioners, Cynthia McCormick and Stephen MacIsaac, did not return messages.

Mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty declined to comment.

A public safety official in Massachusetts shed light on how it could be possible for the 2002 arrest warrant to escape detection during Pittsburgh’s background check on Hill. Massachusetts submits all state arrest warrants to the federal database used by gun sellers to conduct background checks, but it’s up to local departments to put those same arrest warrants into a separate national law enforcement database that the city and other agencies use, said Curt Wood, undersecretary for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

“This has been a long-standing issue across the country, and Massachusetts has been one of the states that’s traditionally had challenges with local departments putting warrants into the national database,” Wood said.

Margaret Harding is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.