20 months and three interims later, the Allegheny County Jail has a new warden.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced today he has appointed Orlando Harper as the new warden of the lockup.
Harper comes from Washington D.C., where he started as a security officer in 1986 and worked his way up the ranks to his current position of Deputy Warden for Operations at that city's Deprtment of Corrections. Harper’s appointment ends the seven month term of William S. Stickman III. He was the third interim warden since former warden Ramon Rustin left in January 2011.
Rustin took a job as a director at Bernalillo County Corrections Facility in New Mexico, Albuquerque in January 2011. Rustin left Pittsburgh after allegations of excessive force by prison guards under his watch. Harper was adamant that these types of allegations won’t happen under his watch.
“Excessive force will not be tolerated by either staff or by inmates on staff,” Harper said. “Like I said, I will hold everybody accountable that uses excessive force.”
Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, head of the search committee, said in the end, the decision was easy.
“I think we all felt that Orlando Harper was the person to lead us forward,” McDaniel said. “I think we’re going to be a wonderful fit.”
Harper said he can’t wait to start his new role.
“I’m very excited to serve the citizens of Allegheny County,” Harper said. “And I look forward to meeting all the employees of the Allegheny County Jail, fellow law enforcement agencies, citizens, volunteers, and the inmate population.”
When asked what she was looking for in a warden, Judge McDaniel didn’t hesitate. She said, “Orlando Harper.”
Harper will begin his job Monday October 15.