Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay

Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay (Photo by J.L. Martello)

Thanking the “angels” he said had supported his efforts since he arrived, and that he had now taken the job of rebuilding the bureau as far as he could, Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay has announced his resignation.

“It’s time for me to pass the torch,” he said at a press conference in Mayor Bill Peduto’s office. “I have taken this as far as I can and I think I’ve developed a team of leaders who will take it to the next level. This is a great city and it has been an honor to serve you all. I’m sure when I look back on my career years from now, this will will be my proudest achievement.”

When he came out of retirement to take the job at Peduto’s behest in 2014—becoming the first chief ever hired from outside the bureau—McLay had 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.

Mayor Bill Peduto (Photo by J.L. Martello)

Mayor Bill Peduto (Photo by J.L. Martello)

Peduto said he has done all three.

“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,” Peduto said.

“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. We are so much closer together now because of this guy.”

Some of the bureau’s accomplishments under McLay’s leadership include:

  • Being 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;
  • Instituting bureau-wide on procedural justice and implicit bias, and
  • Creating a Crime Analysis Unit that included civilian crime analysts, which developed enhanced crime mapping and analysis products and made them available to zone commanders for improved resource deployment and problem analysis.

McLay said the turmoil created by the Fraternal Order of Police “no confidence’ vote, and his appearance in uniform at the Democratic National Convention, had no bearing on his decision to step down.

“I had a chance to put out critical issues facing policing and that elevating professionalism can be a positive,” he said of the DNC appearance. “I regret wearing the uniform because what followed confused and lost a vital message.”

The only regret he had about his job here in Pittsburgh was his inability to diversify the force.

“There’s still a lot to do—especially will building diversity,” he said.

“A lot of efforts are on the right course, but not done.”

Acting Chief Scott Schubert and Cameron McClay)

Acting Chief Scott Schubert and Cameron McClay)

Keeping things on the right tract will fall to 24-year veteran Scott Schubert, 50, who will now serve as acting chief.

“I want to thank Chief McLay,” he said. “He did what needed to be done to make us all better, and we’re not going to waver from that vision.”

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