Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday attended the first of two meetings with rank-and-file police officers to find out what they’re looking for in a police chief.
Peduto said he was pleasantly surprised that the comments he heard from officers “were very much in line” with what he’s heard from the public and with his own ideas about what kind of police chief Pittsburgh needs.
The mayor said one of the officers’ primary concerns is fairness.
“The officers want to see discipline, but they want to see discipline done in a fair way, something that they feel hasn’t been done in the past,” Peduto said.
Peduto said the officers also want a police chief who has experience working in a city similar in size to Pittsburgh, and that they would prefer a good communicator who has worked their way up from a rank-and-file position.
The mayor said the meetings he’s held in each of the city’s six police zones and the two meetings with officers will affect who he ultimately taps as Pittsburgh’s new police chief.
“All of their comments get funneled into the process for the recommendations to be made to me, and they get funneled into my brain as I sit there and I listen to each of the people who I’m interviewing, and thinking ‘What will the officers think of this selection?’” Peduto said.
Some have criticized Peduto for dragging his feet, saying that the search for a police chief has taken too long already. Acting Chief Regina McDonald has been at the helm of the bureau for more than two years, since former Chief Nate Harper resigned amidst a federal investigation.
Peduto said he stands by his deliberate and measured approach, but acknowledges that he could have moved more quickly to meet with rank-and-file officers.
“As one of the sergants who has been on the force for over twenty years said to me and to the entire group, this is the first time this discussion has happened,” Peduto said. “I said I can’t answer for twenty-some years, but I can answer for seven months and I’m sorry it took this long.”
A second meeting with rank-and-file police officers will be held on Aug. 6 in Banksville. The meetings are not open to the public.