35-year police veteran Cameron McLay is an expert in organizational leadership and community policing
PITTSBURGH, PA (Sept. 2, 2014) – Mayor William Peduto and Public Safety Director Stephen A. Bucar today announced the hiring of Cameron McLay as the next Chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
McLay is a leadership development consultant for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, instructing in dispersed ethical leadership, and a former Captain of Police with the Madison, Wis., Police Department. He has 35 years of police experience, and is a specialist in organizational leadership and community policing.
“Cam McLay is exactly what Pittsburgh Police need in a leader — a person of integrity who believes in collaborating with city residents to reduce crime, and in building trust and sound judgement among his fellow officers,” Mayor Peduto said.Cameron McLay
His hiring comes after two months of community meetings Director Bucar led in all six police zones to take input on the police chief search, and two meetings with Mayor Peduto and police officers organized with Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1.
McLay “has all the attributes identified by the community and the rank-and-file throughout the city necessary for the next Pittsburgh Police Chief,” Director Bucar said. “I look forward to working alongside him and every officer citywide to serve our city’s residents with accountability, integrity and respect. He is a man who believes in fundamental fairness and due process.”
Feedback on the community sessions on the police chief search was facilitated by Carnegie Mellon University’s Deliberative Democracy initiative, and forwarded to a screening committee of law enforcement and community experts organized by Talent City, the group formed by the Pittsburgh Foundation and the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics to bring public-private hiring practices into Pittsburgh city government. McLay was among the highest-rated applicants for the Police Chief position identified by the screening committee’s nationwide search. A list of community and police priorities in the police chief search is available here.
McLay, age 56, started as a patrolman with the Indiana University Police Department in 1979 and was a Captain with the Madison Police Department (MPD) from 2005 through his retirement early this year, with command-level responsibilities covering budgeting, personnel, discipline and managing police-community relationships. Beginning in 2007 he led a strategic Internal Trust process that identified inconsistent and ineffective leadership methods within the department and installed effective, ethical leadership practices based on the IACP’s “Leadership in Police Organizations” training program.
He has been a consultant to the IACP since 2013. He is also a use of force expert and served on Madison’s SWAT team for 24 years, including 10 years in command roles.
McLay’s 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 proud and excited to be the new Chief of Police for this great city. My family roots run deep in Pittsburgh, and I have long wanted to return,” McLay said.
“I am drawn by the opportunity to make a difference. 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. We, the police, are nothing but an extension of the communities we serve. Our role is to reduce crime, fear and disorder in all of those communities. To do so, we must forge strong bonds with those we serve. It is my responsibility to make that happen, and it will.”
McLay received a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Studies with a minor in Psychology from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1985, and Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership from Colorado State University Global Campus in 2012.
His police career began as a part-time cadet officer and full-time police officer for the Indiana University Police Department in 1979. He was also president of the IU Taekwondo Club and a police self-defense instructor.
He was a patrol officer with the Madison Police Department for five years starting in 1984, before becoming a full-time training officer for the MPD and other police throughout Wisconsin.
He was a MPD sergeant from 1995-2002, acting as a first-line responder in police patrols, narcotics and gang units and the SWAT team. He served as a police lieutenant from 2002-2005, serving as a shift commander, district patrol operations commander and SWAT tactical team commander.
“Cam embodies community policing values in his style and approach to every situation. He was incredibly good at building relationships. Particularly in low-income high risk communities with people who have very little reason to trust police officers. It was masterful to watch,” said Abha Thakkar, a Madison community organizer and editor of the “Northside News” newspaper.
“Cam was incredibly effective at building trust. He was an active partner, and his participation was always welcome. Cam was the one who really transformed the nature of the relationship that the police department has with the Northside community: an incredibly diverse part of Madison in terms of income distribution and ethnicity.”
Camille Zanoni, a former board officer with the Brentwood Village Neighborhood Association in Madison, said “Captain McLay demonstrated extraordinary leadership in Madison by bringing the community together and connecting all the stakeholders, from parents to community members, faith leadership and community organizations. His creative strength is his ability to build community. He doesn’t just focus on the punitive aspects of police work, but instead focuses on on community building and quality of life in neighborhoods. He makes everyone feel as if they are valued and part of the solution. Pittsburgh made a great decision in selecting Captain McLay for their Chief of Police.”
Mike Masterson is Chief of Police in Boise, Idaho, and worked for the MPD for 28 years. “Cam McLay is a great choice for Pittsburgh’s police chief. He holds the highest personal and professional values and understands the importance or working in partnerships with our citizens to prevent and solve crime and neighborhood problems that lessen the livability of the communities we serve,” Masterson said.
McLay is expected to start work with the Pittsburgh Police Bureau September 15 and will take over for Acting Police Chief Regina McDonald.
“Chief McDonald has been a steady hand for the police bureau during difficult times, and I and the rest of the city owe her thanks,” Mayor Peduto said.
“I also want to thank the Talent City screening committee for bringing Cam McLay to us — the city, and especially the hard working police rank and file, will now have a long-term leader in place to give them the support and guidance they need to do their work to the best of their abilities.”
The Pittsburgh Police Chief salary is $109,160 and McLay’s nomination will be subject to approval by Pittsburgh City Council. As an out-of-state officer he will also require Pennsylvania police Act 120 accreditation from the Municipal Police Officers’ Education & Training Commission.
McLay is not currently available for interviews.
“I intend to be very visible, very engaged and very transparent. Over the next few days however, my primary focus must be on my family as we prepare for our move, and on familiarizing myself with the local issues so as to be able to speak intelligently to those issues,” he said.
McClay is married and has three adult children.
A copy of his resume is available here.