When Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay was hired last September, he had two big tasks: rebuild a fraying relationship between the department and heavily policed communities and restore his officers' flagging morale. Both those goals were advanced yesterday as a new Office of Professional Standards was announced, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has gone through some turmoil in the past several years. We've seen some lows. I think right now you're seeing some of the highs. You have a new group of command staff … and a rank and file that understands promotion is no longer based on politics but merit,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.
The new office is charged with reviewing training and ethical standards, developing policies, accountability and internal auditing systems and “catching shortfalls before they become crisis problems,” McLay said. Part of the office's work will draw from systems used from 1997 to 2005, when the police bureau operated under a federal consent decree imposed after the U.S. Justice Department alleged a “pattern and practice of police misconduct.” Since the decree ended, critics have seen backsliding in holding officers accountable and maintaining discipline, culminating in the federal investigation that landed former Chief Nate Harper in federal prison for funneling city money into an unauthorized account.