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Mayor Apologizing For Criticizing Police During Election Protest

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Some heated moments during a protest in East Liberty on Wednesday night have prompted Mayor Bill Peduto to apologize to Pittsburgh Police.

Peduto said he was upset by the police tactics being used to disperse a crowd demonstrating over the result of the presidential election.

"My words were very strong," Peduto tells KDKA Radio's James Garrity. "Anyone who knows me... knows that when I'm upset I speak honestly, and sometimes maybe a little colorfully."

Mayor Peduto says he left a dinner party after multiple reports of a political protest in the East End. When the protest blocked traffic near Baum Boulevard Wednesday night, police used smoke to control the crowd.

When Mayor Peduto arrived, he became angry at what he saw.

"I did not approve of the tactics being used," says Peduto. "We've had three years of protests, [and] we've never had to use smoke against our residents, nor have to pull batons and use helmets."

That's when, Mayor Peduto admits, he lost his cool.

"I apologized to the commander this morning because I [yelled at him] in front of his troops. That was never the intention, nor was it ever appropriate," the mayor said.

Listen to KDKA Radio's full interview with Mayor Peduto here:

But the president of the local FOP union says Peduto's actions were irresponsible.

"That's not the time you handle disagreements with your command staff, because the cops don't know who to listen to now," said Robert Swartzwelder, the FOP president. "And the citizens may become empowered or the protesters may become empowered because they see the mayor in the middle of the streets. He says what the cops are doing is wrong. So let's do what we want."

Mayor Peduto says his office met Wednesday with Commander Trapp, Acting Police Chief Scott Schubert, and Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich to discuss using materials like gas, smoke and batons to disperse crowds. He says policy will be put in place by next week to clarify such practices.

"At this point, we move forward, we create new standards, and we live by those standards," adds Peduto.

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