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Harper Out as Pittsburgh Police Chief

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper resigned from his post late Wednesday afternoon after Mayor Luke Ravenstahl learned some confidential information from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding their investigation into Harper.  Ravensthal asked Harper to leave – and he did.

“It’s a sad day and one that has been tough for a lot of people but we’ll pick up the pieces and we’ll move on,” said Ravensthal on Wednesday evening speaking to a roomful of reporters.

Ravenstahl wouldn’t say what information he learned but he said it was enough.

He stressed he himself was not under investigation and when the FBI invited him to meet on Wednesday, he did not believe he was under investigation. Ravenstahl did, however, bring an attorney for the city and his personal attorney to the meeting.

Harper, a member of the Pittsburgh police force since 1977 has been chief since 2006. “There are a lot of people in this city who have a tremendous amount of respect for him - including me,” said Ravenstahl.

It is believed that Harper is under federal investigation for misusing police department funds.

Asisstant Chief Regina McDonald will take over the police force. Ravenstahl said a search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately.

Up until very recently, Ravenstahl, who is up for reelection, had said he would stand by Harper, although his opponents had been asking for Harper to be ousted.

“I was very clear despite the suggestions that changes needed to be made that I wanted all of the facts presented to me and I was very diligent in that effort and again based on some of the detail that I learned today made the decision to ask the chief to resign,” said Ravensthal.

The pension board will determine if Harper will still get a city pension.

Ravenstahl said he did not ask anyone else to step down. But he did say there may very well be changes.

“Clearly, I’m not happy at this point,” he said.

Erika Beras (she/her) is a reporter and host for NPR's Planet Money podcast.
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