Peduto Says Police Department Needs Boost In Morale

Aug 29, 2016

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto speaks to reporters after a police promotion ceremony at the City County Building on Monday, July 11, 2016.
Credit Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

At a press conference on Monday, Mayor Bill Peduto acknowledged efforts by Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay to restore relationships between officers and the communities they serve since his hiring in in 2014, but said police need to work a lot harder to achieve the same stasis within their own bureau. 

Peduto called a recent meeting with Fraternal Order of Police leaders “very positive” and said it resulted in short- and long-term solutions to restore a sense of unity in the department.

The police union criticized McLay last month for appearing in uniform at the Democratic National Convention. McLay said his appearance did not violate municipal code preventing officers from campaigning, but Union President Robert Swartzwelder called the chief's appearance "improper" and called for his dismissal. 

Earlier this month, McLay called for an investigation by the Citizen Police Review Board into his actions. The police union is also conducting a confidence survey, threatening a “no confidence” vote.

Peduto said the “vast majority” of officers stand behind in McLay’s work to restore professionalism and reform the department.

“But at the same time, they have concerns about what they would like to see as well,” Peduto said.

Peduto said union leaders and city officials agreed on changes that could foster better morale among the department, but would not specify what any of the changes entailed.

The union reached an agreement with the city over employment contracts last month through arbitration, but appealed it last week, saying it was done in “bad faith.” Officers have been working without a contract since 2014.

Peduto said, in future, he hopes the city can reach an agreement with its police union without attorneys or arbitrators.

“If there’s the opportunity to show them that they’re being listened to, I think this could become a very strong win-win,” Peduto said. 

WESA reporter Sarah Schneider contributed to this report.