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Ex-commander charged in alleged illegal recording of Pittsburgh officers

PITTSBURGH — A now-retired Pittsburgh police commander has been charged with using police-issued body-worn cameras to illegally record other police officers last year, authorities said.

Allegheny County police said they were asked in October to investigate after a body-worn camera was found hidden in an unmarked Pittsburgh police vehicle. Investigators later determined that multiple Zone 2 officers “were recorded without their knowledge on cameras that were placed inside unmarked police vehicles,” county police said Friday in a Facebook post.

Former Zone 2 Commander Matthew Lackner, 50, was charged Friday with four third-degree felony counts of interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic or oral communications. Lackner has retired from the force since the investigation began, officials said.

Investigators allege that Lackner used at least 11 police-issued body-worn cameras to record officers multiple times between Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, capturing about 75 hours of recordings, according to a criminal complaint.

According to the complaint, Lackner told officers he'd recorded that it was part of a federal investigation of an unnamed person and ordered them not to speak of it again, but county police said federal authorities had confirmed that no such probe authorized any such activity. Authorities haven't provided another explanation for Lackher's alleged actions.

Asked Friday about Lackner, Pittsburgh police Chief Larry Scirotto said "anyone that betrays the trust of our organization is dealt with immediately,” the Tribune-Review reported.

Court documents don’t list an attorney representing Lackner; a number listed in his name rang unanswered Monday and then disconnected. Robert Swartzwelder, president of police union Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, declined comment, the Tribune-Review said.

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