Pittsburgh police chief resigning post
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh’s police chief resigned Friday, weeks after a no-confidence vote by the police union and months after angering some officers by addressing the Democratic National Convention while in uniform.
“The time has come for me to pass the torch,” Chief Cameron McLay said at a news conference. “This is a great city, and it’s been an honor to serve you all.”
McLay angered some rank-and-file officers by speaking at the Democratic convention in July, and because of other differences that he has said emerged as he tried to reform the department and improve relations with black citizens.
The union held a no-confidence vote in September and the Citizens Police Review Board has since determined McLay violated a city code banning partisan political activity by speaking at political convention in uniform.
At the time, McLay defended his remarks as nonpartisan and meant to stress the need for better police-community relations.
The Fraternal Order of Police, Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, which represents most of the nearly 900 city officers, have clashed with McLay over several issues since he took the job in September 2014 under Mayor Bill Peduto.
However, McLay said Friday the no-confidence vote didn’t affect his decision.
“I’m moving because I think I’ve accomplished what I can here,” he said.
McLay in 2014 replaced Chief Regina McDonald, who had essentially been a caretaker since the former chief, Nate Harper, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
Peduto expressed gratitude to McLay for his service to the city. “When I entered office, I knew what the police bureau needed was a reformer,” Peduto said in a statement Friday. “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.”
He was the city’s first police chief hired from outside the bureau.
McLay said he doesn’t have another job lined up, because he was focused on the job at hand. He said he’ll likely return to Madison, Wisconsin, where he has family and worked as police captain before coming to Pittsburgh.
Rank-and-file officers have bristled under the reform-minded chief, who angered them in January 2015 by retweeting a picture that shows him holding a sign that said, “I resolve to challenge racism @ work” with the hashtag “end white silence.”
McLay, who is white, posed with the sign at a New Year’s Eve celebration in the wake of demonstrations by Black Lives Matter and other groups over the killings of black men by police. The union said the sign painted city officers as racists and violated a policy governing police participation in social media. McLay disagreed but also called for the internal watchdog agencies to review the tweet. That resulted in no disciplinary recommendation.