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Identity & Community

Peduto Goes Outside Pittsburgh For New Police Chief

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Courtesy image
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Eight months after taking office, Mayor Bill Peduto has announced the hiring of Cameron McLay as the next chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

It's a job, Peduto said, that comes with a lot of ground to cover.

“He most certainly must restore the trust with the community," Peduto said. “He must rebuild the morale with the rank and file and he must make the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police a national model of professionalism.”

McLay, 56, is a leadership development consultant for the International Association of Chiefs of Police and instructor in ethical leadership. Prior to that McLay served as captain of police in Madison, Wisc. from 2005 to his retirement early this year.

His hiring comes after several community meetings and meetings with rank-and-file officers on what they wanted in the next police chief. Peduto said McLay met all criteria from the community including having proven strategies for community-oriented policing. He also met criteria laid out by rank and file officers, Peduto said.

“Number one – integrity,” the mayor said. “Number two – independent from political pressure, well-respected, an experienced leader including moral leadership, experience as a rank and file officer, well respected, approachable and a good public speaker.”

Some community advocates are praising the decision. Tim Stevens is chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project (BPEP) and has attended several community meetings.

"One of the things that I think is important with Mr. McLay is the fact that he's a specialist in organizational leadership and community policing," said Stevens, "community policing has come up in many conversations about the direction we want to see our Pittsburgh Bureau of Police go."

According to Peduto, McLay is a specialist in organizational leadership, community policing and is a use-of-force expert.

Of the 10 finalists for police chief, Peduto said less than half were internal candidates.

“Cam McLay may be first Pittsburgh police chief who has been brought in to lead the bureau,” Peduto said. “He was and is the most qualified.”

McLay does have ties to the region, however. His mother and grandparents were from Squirrel Hill and Wilkinsburg, and as a youth he lived in Mt. Lebanon for three years while his father worked for Alcoa.

“I am drawn by the opportunity to make a difference," McLay said in a statement. "I recognize a community that desperately wants a stronger connection with its police, and a proud police force, rich in tradition, that wants to be valued and respected for their service and sacrifices. It is my job to close that gap,”

McLay is expected to start Sept. 15 and will take over for Regina McDonald, who has served as acting chief since Feb. 21, 2013, following the resignation of Nate Harper, who was indicted on conspiracy charges and later convicted.

McClay, who is married and has three adult children, must still be confirmed by City Council.