Pittsburgh: Skyline from Mount Washington, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Wally Gobetz’s photostream and photograph of Cameron McLay courtesy of Louise Anne’s Facebook post

In two years McLay rebuilt police-community relations, internal police accountability systems, and data-driven policing measures

PITTSBURGH, PA (November 4, 2016) Mayor William Peduto announced today that after two years of rebuilding police-community relationships and instilling long-lasting accountability measures to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Chief Cameron S. McLay is leaving the Bureau to pursue other professional opportunities.

Since Mayor Peduto selected McLay in September 2014, the Bureau has reestablished relationships with communities and leaders citywide; rebuilt its internal protocols, controls, and ethics training; been one of six police departments nationwide chosen for the Department of Justice National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice; and had its staffing levels rise to more than 900 officers, which is its greatest level since 2002.

His last day in office is November 8. Assistant Chief Scott Schubert will then be named Acting Chief, and the Mayor will name a full-time Chief within 90 days.

Mayor Peduto will soon hold a meeting with community leaders to discuss how McLay’s legacy of building community-police relationships, strengthening internal police controls and adopting data-driven crime-fighting initiatives will be preserved.

“When I entered office I knew what the Police Bureau needed was a reformer. With the indictment and conviction of the former Chief, with community-police relations at risk, and morale among the rank-and-file at an all-time low, it required someone from the outside to get us to the point where we are today. Cam McLay was exactly the person we needed,” Mayor Peduto said.

“On his first day here, I asked Cam how long he would stay, and he said the average term for a police chief was three years. We knew we only had him for a short time, but in that time he was able to mend relations with the community, rebuild professionalism within the Bureau, and overhaul a command staff that is now promoted on merit rather than politics.

The City is in debt to Cam for his contributions to the community, taking all the shots and criticisms that come with making changes, and putting the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police on a successful pathway that is a model for law enforcement agencies across the United States. We will continue on that pathway for years to come.”

McLay was the first Chief chosen from outside the Bureau in more than 150 years.

“Two years ago I came to Pittsburgh inspired by the resilience of this City, its people, and its Police Bureau. I came here because I saw an opportunity to make a difference. I was, and I remain, fully confident that I knew what it would take to create the transformational change required to restore the integrity of the leadership systems of the Bureau of Police,” Chief McLay said.

“I accepted these challenges knowing that I had the Mayor’s support and assurance that I had authority to take the requisite actions required to create transformational change. When I arrived, I found there was much to be done. However, I was pleased to also discover I inherited a far better Police Bureau than its critics realized. And now, thanks to the hard work of its men and women, and outstanding support from this community, much has been accomplished.

At this point, I earnestly believe that I have accomplished all that I am able to do. Accordingly, I have decided to step aside to pursue other options.”

A former Captain of Police with the Madison, Wis., Police Department, McLay was a consultant with the International Association of Chiefs of Police before coming out of retirement to lead the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in 2014. He was tasked with three main goals: to implement data-driven, community-oriented policing; to restore public trust through creating sound accountability systems; and to improve morale by restoring the integrity of police leadership systems.

Since 2013 complaints against the police are down 42% and lawsuits down 51%, while most crime continues to decline. In efforts to improve trust between the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the communities it serves, the Bureau under Chief McLay’s leadership has:

  • Been chosen to participate in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, a three-year effort funded by the Department of Justice providing national expertise in community policing.
  • Begun training all Bureau members on procedural justice and implicit bias. A team of instructors from the Bureau attended training on teaching these topics and then created a specialized curriculum, which will also be made available to community members. Numerous local and national organizations have reached out to the Bureau for this training, making the Pittsburgh police a leader on the topic.
  • Developed partnerships with community leaders throughout the city, facilitating high-level collaboration in both routine and crisis situations. The Chief has formed a youth advisory council; he and his commanders meet regularly with the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) to discuss issues of concern to the local faith community; and the Bureau’s chief of staff serves as liaison to the LGBT community.
  • Adopted data transparency measures to provide the public with real-time information on crimes.
  • Released a five-year use-of-force analysis.

Furthermore, in the last two years the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has:

  • Adopted a revised Code of Ethics (available here) to ensure long-term trust and legitimacy in the Bureau. The code helps residents recognize the Bureau as a source of pride, and builds a foundation within the Bureau of quality people who are committed to ethical standards, core values, professional improvement, and public service.
  • Adopted an Office of Professional Standards to ensure Bureau policies reflect best practices of modern policing; proper staff training and accreditation; and an auditing process to check that Bureau actions are consistently in conformity with policies.
  • Worked to increase diversity within the Bureau, partially by focusing on recruits from military and postsecondary institutions with large minority populations, and by moving to continuous recruitment cycles to shorten the time frame between recruitment and hiring.
  • Hired a training consultant to assess, review, and revise all training programs to ensure alignment with the best practices of 21st-century policing, and to create a Pittsburgh police leadership training program.
  • Refined promotion processes for all command-level promotion decisions to ensure that candidates receive honest and unfiltered feedback on their leadership competencies from supervisors, peers, and subordinates. In addition, candidates for promotion are given feedback and coaching to help them enhance their leadership competencies.
  • Created a Crime Analysis Unit that included civilian crime analysts for the first time in the Bureau’s history. It has developed enhanced crime mapping and analysis products and made them available to zone commanders for resource deployment and problem analysis.
  • Restructured the Violent Crimes Unit to enhance collaboration, communication, and information sharing and to better align the Bureau’s investigative processes with research-based best practices. Next year the unit will expand its work in focused deterrence, which uses technology and intelligence techniques to focus on the most violent offenders.

Attached here is a copy of the 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Strategic Plan, including an executive summary. The purpose of this document is to provide context and perspective to the many changes that have taken place in the Police Bureau, and to chart a course for future improvement.

Investments in Bureau operations have increased under the Peduto Administration, leading to a current police force of 908 officers (873 sworn officers and 35 recruits), the most since 2002; the opening of a new training facility in the North Side; and an increase in funding for police vehicles of $1.6 million in both 2016 and 2017.