At least one person in the media happened to point this out last week as the Democratic National Convention was in full swing:
It was very possibly an ethical breach for Chief Cameron McLay of the Pittsburgh PD to address the DNC. Police Chief is a nonpartisan role.
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 27, 2016
Chief Cameron McLay made it onto the nation’s radar in early 2015 when a photo of him holding up a sign vowing to “challenge racism @ work” and “end white silence” made the rounds of social media. KDKA reported at the time that the police union wasn’t thrilled with the sign, which was handed to him by a member of the group Fight Back Pittsburgh.
Naturally the Democrats were thrilled to have as a guest a man who could convincingly walk the line between the Black Lives Matter movement and law enforcement. But is Pittsburgh’s police chief really supposed to travel to Philadelphia to appear at the Democratic convention, in full uniform no less?
— KDKA (@CBSPittsburgh) August 1, 2016
McLay has asked for the Office of Municipal Investigations and the independent Citizen Police Review Board to investigate his own campaign appearance, and not over the very obvious Nazi salute pictured above, but rather to ensure that he followed the rules. McLay did not explicitly endorse Hillary Clinton in his speech, but his appearance certainly seemed like it was intended to benefit her campaign.
— Marcie Cipriani (@MCipriani_WTAE) August 1, 2016
Ethics violation by a Dem? Unpossible! Investigation launched after PGH PD Chief Cameron McLay's DNC Speech https://t.co/p97MEBPKFi
— TLC (@TracyLConnors) August 1, 2016
KDKA reports that according to the City Code, “no officer or employee of the police department shall campaign for a candidate while on duty, or while wearing a uniform. Nor, may he or she identify himself or herself as an employee of the police department.” The application of the rule would appear to hinge on the word “campaign,” as McLay (and Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat) insist there was nothing partisan in his five-minute speech.
McLay most definitely was in uniform, though, and did identify himself as the police chief — it’s kind of hard to miss in the photo below, above the “Social Justice” subhead.
— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) July 27, 2016
Will McLay be cleared of wrongdoing? (Spoiler: Yes, of course he will.) Here’s a link to his speech so you can judge for yourself: was he campaigning?
— WTAE-TV Pittsburgh (@WTAE) July 27, 2016