When Cameron McLay took over as Pittsburgh police chief, he faced a department plagued by scandal and low morale, responding to unrelenting calls from neighborhoods where gunfire is routine and makeshift memorials are common. A year later, he has changed the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police leadership, established an internal office of standards and made waves by appearing in an “#EndWhiteSilence” photo, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Above all, he's pushed community-oriented policing, saying he wants every city resident to know at least one officer by name. Crime stats have remained about the same, although a recent spike in violent crime was exacerbated by the brazen shooting last week of three people at a vigil for a victim of gun violence, hours after the chief and Mayor Bill Peduto held a press conference vowing to quash such crime.
McLay, 57, broke a long tradition when he was hired from outside the bureau's ranks. McLay set out to solve problems from the inside out. He created an internal Office of Professional Standards tasked with reviewing training and ethical standards, developing policies, accountability and internal auditing systems. McLay delegated more responsibility and autonomy to the city's six police zones. He is passionate about community-oriented policing, arguing that when residents know officers (and even their zone commander and the chief or a member of his command staff), violence will go down. Pittsburgh was one of six pilot cities selected by the U.S. Department of Justice for the $4.75 million National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which McLay considered a highlight of his first year.