Pittsburgh Police Union Elects New President

Pittsburgh’s police union Thursday night voted in a new president by a significant margin in an election dominated by police concerns both old and new.

Police Officer Bob Swartzwelder, 51, will be sworn in as president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 on March 17 after defeating incumbent Officer Howard McQuillan by a vote of 535-247.

Officer Swartzwelder, a 23-year member of the police department, said the police sought changes in their union leadership due to the “current anti-police climate” from city and police officials.

“The majority of active Pittsburgh police officers are extremely upset of the lack of overt support by the mayor and others regarding the hard work that men and women [of the police force] do every day,” he said.

Officer Swartzwelder said that other issues in the election included what he called the city’s failure to enforce the mandates of state Act 47, leaving police union members without a contract. Act 47 is a state program for financially distressed municipalities.

He said officers also wanted someone in the union leadership role who would be more outspoken in the media regarding the concerns they have.

“I think what our members wanted was someone to be more vocal,” he said. “That was the significant difference between Howard and myself.”