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Former Pittsburgh Police Chief Is 1 Of 3 Finalists For Top Seattle Position

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
Former Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay at a press conference in 2016. McLay led the city's department for two years and has recently been named as a top contender to lead Seattle's police force.

Former Pittsburgh police chief Cameron McLay is among three finalists  named to become the chief of the Seattle Police Department. 

After a national search, multiple news outlets report the other two finalists are Minneapolis Police Department deputy chief of patrol Eddie Frizell and assistant chief Ely Reyes of the Austin Police Department in Texas.

McLay is the only finalist to have served as a permanent chief of a large city police department. After working as a police captain in Madison, Wis., he was hired to lead Pittsburgh's municipal force in 2014 and resigned in November 2016. His departure followed a no-confidence vote from the police union and controversial appearance in uniform at a political event. He said, however, that neither incident affected his decision to leave. 

“The time has come for me to pass the torch,” McLay said at a press conference announcing his resignation in 2016. “At this point I earnestly believe that I have accomplished all that I am able to do.”

While in Pittsburgh, McLay was praised by some for his committment to improving police-community relations. His approach included a focus on data-driven solutions to crime and higher accountability standards for officers. 

McLay also opened a dialogue within Pittsburgh's communities of color, during a time when tensions were high both locally and nationally between minority populations and police. 

“As chief of police, I apologize for our police role in our bad shared history," he told a crowd at an interfaith gathering in June 2016. "I apologize for what you went through. I apologize for some of the aspects of the war on drugs had on the communities we serve.”

The Seattle finalists names were forwarded to Mayor Jenny Durkan. She will interview the finalists and make her selection by this summer. Her choice will be submitted to the City Council for confirmation.

The three finalists were selected from five semifinalists submitted by a search committee.

The other two semifinalists were Carmen Best, who has served as Seattle's interim police chief since Jan. 1, and an assistant chief in the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.