Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

By Jonathan D. Silver and Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A police sergeant's June 18 promotion came three months after he was sent to anger management training and a supervisor recommended that his contact with the public be minimized.

Police leadership yesterday said that now-Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac completed the training but was never removed from contact with the public and that the measure shouldn't have precluded his promotion.

"When they go to anger management, and get some sort of counseling, that's taken into consideration," Police Chief Nate Harper said. "If he would have continued to have anger issues, it would definitely be taken into consideration" in the promotion decision -- but he didn't.

Sgt. Hlavac's promotion is one of three that have sparked concern that was heard yesterday during a two-hour City Council public hearing. He and new Cmdr. George Trosky and Lt. Charles Rodriguez have all faced charges of verbal or violent domestic abuse.

The promotions are "appalling. They're insulting to the citizens of Pittsburgh," said Jeanne Clark, a member of the state board of the National Organization for Women and a Squirrel Hill resident. She was among 150 people at the hearing, including Chief Harper. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl did not attend.

"Clearly the police brass has no idea about the impact and the law regarding domestic violence," she said. "It kills women. It kills men."

Chief Harper listened to the two dozen speakers, then said he did not regret the promotions, instead faulting a public tendency to "accuse people" of things that have not been proved, adding that "the public has the right to their opinion."

Police officials have said that Sgt. Hlavac's domestic problems have been verbal, not violent.

A police report on a Jan. 3 incident states that Sgt. Raymond Hutton was called to the East Liberty apartment shared by Sgt. Hlavac and Lauren Maughan at 1:40 a.m.

Ms. Maughan told Sgt. Hutton that Sgt. Hlavac pulled her hair, hauled her from a bed and grabbed her wrist, according to the report. She was uninjured, but her left wrist and the back of her neck were red.

Sgt. Hlavac told Sgt. Hutton that he grabbed her wrist in self-defense when she hit him while holding a cell phone, and did not grab her hair, just her pillow.

On March 22, Sgt. Hlavac's supervisor at the time, Lt. Philip Dacey, said he witnessed an argument at the apartment, but there was no physical contact.

The next day, Sgt. Hlavac's boss, Zone 5 Cmdr. RaShall Brackney, recommended he be removed from active duty, undergo counseling and that his contact with the public be minimized when he returned.

The paperwork went to Assistant Chief William Bochter and Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson, both of whom signed off on the memo without comment.

Deputy Chief Donaldson said Sgt. Hlavac complied with the order to attend three days of anger management counseling.

"We never took him out of contact with the public," Chief Harper said. "We sent him to Zone 2" in the Hill District, where, the chief acknowledged, there is frequent contact with the public.

Chief Harper said there has been no decision on whether to reverse the promotions, which would involve demoting the men. Nor has the administration settled on any changes to promotion rules, which the mayor has said lack clear guidance on when an officer who is in line for a higher post can be passed over.

Fraternal Order of Police leadership has said the union will sue if the promotions are reversed or civil service rules altered.

"The issue isn't going away, and the FOP is not the only group that can sue," Ms. Clark warned at the hearing.

Shirl Regan, executive director of the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, asked that the city adopt a domestic violence policy that would affect promotions and require that the Allegheny County district attorney investigate all abuse calls to police officers' homes. She called for "immediate in-service training to all city police officers," and said the bureau should buy digital cameras for all squad cars so that officers can gather evidence on domestic violence cases.

Charles Hanlon, recording secretary for the FOP, was one of a few who spoke on behalf of the officers. He said the men were "promoted on just causes. ... These three men have just been accused. They have not been convicted."

Mr. Ravenstahl has said that he did not know of the issues involving Sgt. Hlavac and Lt. Rodriguez prior to their promotions.

Michele Cunko, former director of the city Civil Service Commission, said at the hearing that the chief had "an absolute right" to pass over any of the men for promotion. "We don't want police officers to think that this kind of behavior is rewarded with a promotion."

Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542. Jonathan D. Silver can be reached at or 412-263-1962. )


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

MTV True Life- I need Anger Management

Dear Daybreak Counseling Services,

My production company is working on an episode of MTV’s long-running documentary series “True Life.” This episode will follow three young people attempting to control their anger issues.

Our hope with this show, as with all our shows that deal with youth issues, is that it will inspire young people who need help to seek treatment.

We’re currently looking for men and women, ages 18 to 25, who are about to start an anger management program. We’d like to follow someone through a program and see how that person changes. We’re open to all types of stories in all areas of the country, but we’re most concerned with following someone who is about to start a program, rather than someone who has already been through a program.

If you know anyone who might fit our profile, please let me know. You can reach me via e-mail ( or phone (646-303-2508).

Many thanks,

Craig D’Entrone
Producer, MTV “True Life”
Punched in the Head Productions

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pay attention to anger on job

Jun. 24, 2007 12:00 AM

Do you feel safe at work?

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 2 million assaults and threats of violence against Americans at work occur annually. This includes 325,000 aggravated assaults, 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults, 70,100 robberies and 900 homicides. In addition to assaults and threats, a substantial number of employees report being bullied or harassed on the job.

Workplace violence costs employers billions of dollars in lost work time and wages, reduced productivity, medical costs, workers' compensation payments and legal and security expenses.

Providing training to recognize and address workplace violence should be a regular part of an employer's annual training regimen. An inappropriate-language tiff between employees can escalate to something much more serious if left unattended. Such behavior was reported at my company, MackayMitchell Envelope Co., so several months ago, management took time to review our offensive-behavior policy with all of our employees. We hired TEAM (Total Employee Assistance Management Inc.) and held several mandatory training classes.

I learned a lot about this issue, and while writing about such a topic is a real departure for me, I think this is especially important.

First off, what constitutes workplace violence? It includes name calling, yelling, angry remarks, obscene phone calls, vague or specific threats, throwing things, destroying property, shoving, stalking, hitting, stabbing, rape, suicide and murder.

Violence in the workplace can come from patients, students, customers and clients. Supervisors, managers and current or former employees can also commit it. In addition, violence can come from a spouse, child, neighbor or anyone who has a personal relationship with an employee.

A number of risk factors increase the likelihood of workplace violence, including a mishandled termination or disciplinary action; a grudge over a real or imaginary grievance; drug or alcohol use; bringing weapons to work or fascination with weapons; increasing belligerence; vague or specific threats; interest in recently publicized violent events; frequent outbursts of anger; and homicidal or suicidal comments or threats.

An employer has an obligation to provide a safe work environment. What can be done to decrease the likelihood and occurrence of workplace violence?

• Adopt a workplace-violence policy and prevention program.

• Communicate the policy to all employees and provide training sessions for all new and current employees and members of management.

• Adopt consistent and fair disciplinary procedures.

• Foster an environment of trust and respect among co-workers and between employees and management.

• When necessary, seek help from outside resources, such as law enforcement, employee-assistance groups and mental-health professionals.

Employees are often the first to notice potential problems with co-workers and should be encouraged to be active participants in keeping the workplace safe. What can employees do to help prevent workplace violence?

• Accept and adhere to your company's workplace-violence preventative policies and practices.

• Become aware of warning signs.

• Report any threatening and violent behaviors to management or human resources.

The instructor of our violence-in-the-workplace class shared this story with me about the "worry tree":

"I was in a session with a police officer and asked him how he dealt with all of the tragedy, death and inhuman behavior exhibited between people on the assorted police calls he makes.

"He told me that every night when he went home, he touched a tree before walking into his house. By touching the tree, he told himself, he was dumping all of the tragedy, stress, death and trauma on the tree. He then went into his home, took off his vest, locked his gun away and made the conscious choice to stop being a police officer and to start being a husband and dad.

"The next morning, he touched the tree on the way to his car to go to work and assumed all his worries. The amazing thing is, there aren't nearly as many as he hung up the night before. He told me that touching the tree allowed him to compartmentalize his life and prevented him from burning out."

The officer found a positive way to keep his anger and frustrations from turning into violent behavior. Help yourself and those around you to do the same.

Mackay's Moral: Control yourself: Remember, anger is just one letter short of danger.

Harvey Mackay is the author of The New York Times' No. 1 best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his Web site,, by e-mailing or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co, 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Workplace Coach: How a leader responds to stress sets tone for everyone


Experience, drive and intellect are important skills for leading successfully in today's business world, but they're not enough.

Successful leaders need to be able to inspire, motivate and communicate that they care about their people. They need to deal effectively not only with their own emotions but with the emotions of those around them.

The workplace today is increasingly full of challenge and stress. We are all being asked to do more with less. One of the greatest challenges leaders face is dealing with stress.

How a leader responds to stress can be contagious. Leaders who openly display anger, fear, resentment and anxiety under stress can be toxic to their people and the business. Allowed to continue unchecked, this kind of behavior can have a devastating impact on an organization. Loose cannons sink ships and human talent can be driven away.

How we deal with stress, challenge and conflict has roots deep in human evolution. The problem: In times of great stress or crisis, our limbic brains literally take over the rest of the brain. In the emotional intelligence arena, this is referred to as an "amygdala hijack," meaning the reptilian part of the brain (the amygdala) has taken over for the more advanced, cognitive part of the brain.

The amygdala is the part of the brain largely responsible for our freeze, fight or flight response; in other words, our caveman defense system. We have millions of years of evolution hard-wired into our brains to protect us from those nasty sabertooths and other predators. While sabertooths no longer exist, sometimes it can seem as if your boss or co-worker is out to get you. This is when the lizard part of your brain kicks in so effectively and totally with its highly protective response. But as Martha Beck (Oprah's O Magazine life coach) says, Do you really want to be taking advice from a lizard?

She makes a great point. When we lose control of our emotions and allow ourselves to be swept away by anger, fear or anxiety, it's usually the lizard in you that is running the show.

How to get the lizard in you under control:

Self-awareness: Develop your ability to see or feel yourself getting "hooked" or hijacked. Getting hooked means someone has pushed your emotional button (or grabbed your lizard). Most of us know our buttons. If you don't, make it your mission to know so you can see them coming.

Many of our triggers stem from early childhood experiences. For example, if you grew up with a father with very high expectations, you may overreact to criticism from a co-worker or boss. Similarly, if you were the middle child (and didn't get the attention you craved), you may "react" when members of your workplace team don't listen to your ideas or pay enough attention to you.

The key is recognizing your triggers so you can make a choice to behave differently. You do have a choice about how you react. Practice tracking and identifying your emotional triggers. Pay attention to the child (and lizard) within you to develop insight about when an "amygdala hijack" may be imminent (Hint: the hair standing up on the back of your neck or breaking into a cold sweat are clues). There are tools and instruments available to help you identify your typical response to stress and challenge and learn new strategies.

Self-regulation: Develop self-soothing or coping strategies to rely on when you know you are hooked. For some a walk around the block or taking deep breaths will work. Others use daily exercise or meditation to help them remain calm. The key is finding what works for you, and remembering to use it when you find yourself headed for trouble.

Next week: How to deal with a boss or peer whose inner lizard is out of control.

Maureen Moriarty is a professional accredited executive coach, organizational development consultant and leadership development corporate trainer. She is the founder of Pathways to Change and offers leadership development courses and coaching to local companies and individuals. Web site: She can be reached at 425-837-9297.

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