Pittsburgh’s acting police chief offered permanent job, vows to continue reforms

(Photo by Sarah Collins/PublicSource)

Acting Police Chief Scott Schubert spoke to community members and the media on Nov. 30 at the Kingsley Association in Larimer. He has now been offered the job permanently.

Scott Schubert is one step closer to officially becoming the chief of the Pittsburgh police.

Mayor Bill Peduto announced today that he has formally appointed Schubert to the bureau's top position after serving in the 'acting' chief role for just shy of three months.

Schubert, who took the job on a provisional basis after former Chief Cameron McLay announced his departure in November, vowed to champion reforms and continue rebuilding the police bureau’s relationship with residents.

“If we want to be successful, if we want to live in peace, we’ve got to be together,” Schubert, 50, said at a community meeting last night on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

At that meeting, Schubert promised to root out any racism in the bureau and briefly addressed the fatal shooting by police of resident Christopher Thompkins, which he described as a tragic and unfortunate event.

Peduto told the audience last night that he, McLay and Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich unanimously decided on Schubert to be acting chief when McLay abruptly announced his resignation.

Now, Schubert, a 24-year veteran within the Pittsburgh police force, is the “right person to steer the bureau” as it grows to more than 900 officers and continues to implement reforms, the mayor said in a statement today.

The City Council also gets an opportunity to say if it agrees after the mayor’s nomination of Schubert is introduced on Tuesday.

Schubert previously applied for the chief’s job in 2014 and was the highest scoring internal applicant, Peduto said last night. But with community relations in disarray and the threat of federal intervention looming, Peduto said the Bureau of Police needed an outside leader to bring reforms.

But McLay told Peduto in August that he thought he’d made all the progress he could as a reformer and wanted to return home to Wisconsin, the mayor said.

“There comes the tipping point when the ‘wrecking ball’ chief no longer gets followed,” Peduto said McLay told him in August.

Peduto asked McLay to take two weeks to think about it, but the former chief told him in September that his wife wanted him home the next month. McLay announced his departure in early November and stayed on the city payroll into December.

Schubert joined the bureau in 1993 and lives in Brookline with his family.

He said his dream had always been to be a Pittsburgh police officer, like his father, and in a statement today, he said it is “humbling” to be considered for the position of chief.

Reach Jeffrey Benzing at jeff@publicsource.org. Follow him on Twitter @jabenzing.