During his first day on the job as Pittsburgh’s new Public Safety Director former FBI Special Agent Steven Bucar, whom Mayor Bill Peduto described as his “Eliot Ness,” met with administration personnel.
On his second day he met with the press, chiefly fielding questions about his role in helping choose the new police chief and what he expects from the departments he will oversee.
That selection process, said Peduto is underway and will proceed on two tracks: a public outreach track, soliciting input from residents across the city on what they want in a chief, and the track that looks at the best standard in terms of training, public profile and professionalism, on which Bucar will focus.
“My model would be what you see in the job posting,” he said. “I want someone with large city department command experience, experience in public relations and in discipline, and with a department that has been successful in crime reduction. I want that knowledge. It’s going to be a tall order.”
Asked if that, and the mayor’s mandate to clean up the scandal plagued police bureau and restore moral, meant the next chief would have to come from outside the city, Bucar said “most likely.”
“There may be someone in the (Pittsburgh) command staff who’s been successful in those areas,” he said. “If so they would be considered.”
As to whether he or the new chief would be tackling the highly strained police-community relations in police Zone 5, he said he would not be waiting for the new chief before looking at all departments.
“I’m not going to let these issues fester,” he said. “But I can’t tell you right now what I’m going to do. There is a mix of strategies, but what that mix is I’ll have to get community input and meet with staff.”
Bucar hinted that restoring departmental moral in the wake of former Chief Nate Harper’s conviction and ongoing investigations could play a part in improving those relations.
“Community respect for the department is not mutually exclusive of police moral,” he said. “Those officers go out every day and take that risk, and they need to have confidence that their leadership is not corrupt. That can make them proud, less frustrated and they can keep their cool.”
He said the fact that the city is trying to rebuild its public safety structure while still embroiled in the aftermath of a scandal is part why he applied for the job.
“That’s actually what attracted me,” he said. “I worked for the largest police organization in the state, the State Police, and the federal government, the FBI. They have problems too, but you don’t hear about them because they handle it, they have internal processes. And I will use those processes.”
Bucar said the desire to be in public safety that he witnessed in the personnel of New York City, and those who joined them across the country in the wake of 9-11, is the same desire that drives him.
“It’s still there, and I will rely on it in the days to come,” he said.
Peduto said he and Bucar would be attending public safety meetings in every police zone in the coming months, adding that the talent city selection process, vetting by Bucar and staff, and gathering of community input will probably yield a list of finalists by the end of July. He said he hopes to have a chief in place by Labor Day.
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Public phases of the city’s search for a new Pittsburgh Police chief, include six public meetings and a site for online remarks. Public Meetings
Public meetings will be hosted by Zone Resident Public Safety Councils and will include Mayor Peduto and Acting Public Safety Director Bucar.
Zone 2 – Thursday, June 26 @ 6 p.m.
Teamsters Local 249 (aka: Teamster’s Temple)
4701 Butler St. – Lawrenceville
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Zone 6 – Monday, June 30 @ 6 p.m.
Greenway Middle School*
1400 Crucible St. – Sheraden
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Zone 5 – Tuesday, July 8 @ 6 p.m.
The Kingsley Association*
6435 Frankstown Ave. – Homewood
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Zone 3 – Wednesday, July 16 @ 6 p.m.
South Hills Senior Residences
125 Ruth St. – Beltzhoover/Knoxville
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
Zone 4 – Tuesday, July 22 @ 6 p.m.
Jewish Community Center*
5738 Forbes Ave. – Squirrel Hill
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Zone 1 – Thursday, July 24 @ 6 p.m.
Our Lady Queen of Peace Church*
907 Middle St. – East Allegheny
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
During these community forums, residents in each zone will have the opportunity to share their ideas about how to improve policing in Pittsburgh, identify their priorities, and suggest the qualities they believe are essential in the new chief.
The city has set up an on-line platform for citizens to register their opinions online. The formal launch this week of the city’s Mindmixer site is the latest digital component to the administration’s community engagement efforts. Mindmixer is a site for encouraging and collecting community input on civic issues. Those interested in the search for a police chief may log on to http://pittsburghpa.mindmixer.com/ and answer three general questions: – What priorities does your community need the new Chief of Police to address?
– What qualities and skills does your community need the new Chief of Police to have?
– What can you and others in your community do to help realize the vision of policing in partnership with the community?
Recommendations from the public meetings and the online community on Mindmixer will be integrated into the police chief search committee process. In another bid to solicit public input on the police chief search, Mayor Peduto on May 30 held a roundtable discussion with local youth representing the Hear Me project. The police chief job posting and application process is being facilitated through Talent City, a partnership among the city, the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Institute of Politics. For the full press release announcing these plans please visit: pittsburghpa.gov/mayor/release?id=3168
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