Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert Retires

Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert is retiring after half a decade as the city’s top law enforcement official and a nearly three-decade career with the city’s police bureau .

Schubert’s last day will be July 1. Deputy Chief Tom Stangrecki will replace the Acting Chief until a permanent replacement is found.

“After careful consideration and an important discussion with my family, I have made the decision that it is time to step down as Chief and allow one of my brothers or sisters in blue to serve this great city and this legendary institution,” Schubert said in a statement.

“Donning this uniform every morning always fills me with such pride, but it has been an opportunity to work with our officers and the community to create a more equitable, safe and inclusive Pittsburgh that has been my greatest passion. and my motivation, strength as a leader.

During a five-minute press conference on Friday, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey promised a nationwide search for a replacement, but guided by community input — a process he said would be “essential in work to help build strong community relationships”.

He said a team of public safety experts and community members would take six months to prepare a report on the office’s needs, and he hopes to hire as soon as possible thereafter.

Gainey said he did not call for Schubert’s resignation and that a recently released list of recommendations from the transition team regarding changes to policing played no role.

“It was his decision to retire and we respect that,” he said. “We were lucky to have him”

The Transition Team’s report urged the city to pursue more alternative approaches to criminal justice, renewed commitments to community-based and bias-free policing. And he concluded that “new leadership is needed to ensure that the head of the PBP is committed to the new vision for public safety and is a leader in its implementation.”

An audit by City Comptroller Michael Lamb and the city’s Police Review Board, meanwhile, noted continuing issues with racially disproportionate enforcement of marijuana and other offenses.

Schubert’s retirement marks the end of a career that began as a Coraopolis police officer before joining the Pittsburgh police as a patrolman in 1993. Over the years, he rose through the ranks to being named chief by then-mayor Bill Peduto. 2017.

During his career, his duties covered everything from investigations to homeland security. He earned a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and a master’s degree in administration of justice from Point Park University.

Schubert replaced Cameron McLay, an out-of-town reformer who introduced new accountability measures. But McLay was often at odds with rank-and-file policing and left in late 2016 after a “no-confidence” vote by the police union.

Schubert, with his quarter-century history in the department, was promoted to acting chief and he maintained many of McLay’s changes. In the statement announcing his departure, he touted his work to implement a reform agenda outlined in President Barack Obama’s report on 21st century policing. He noted in particular a violence intervention program that relied on social service programs and community leaders to prevent escalations of violence within communities.

Despite these efforts, Schubert’s tenure has been marked by consecutive summers of sustained protests against police accountability – although the protests were most immediately spawned by police deaths that occurred at the out of town. And Jim Rogers’ death after police shocked him with a Taser last fall led to the firing of several officersas well as the radical condemnation of the ministry’s training and accountability procedures.

More recently, city police were frustrated in their efforts to charge those responsible for a shooting at a North Side Airbnb property that drew national attention and resulted in the deaths of two teenagers.

Brandi Fisher, Founder and CEO of the Alliance for Police Accountability, said she was “thrilled to have the opportunity to gain new leadership. … We have a great opportunity to really change the culture of the city of Pittsburgh when it comes to public safety and policing.”

Fischer said Schubert was “a good human being and cares about people, but we don’t think he was the best to run the police department.” She said he didn’t push as hard as McLay had to turn the department around.

“We haven’t seen that kind of transformation under Schubert’s leadership,” she said. “That’s why Chief McLay got so much backlash and a vote of no confidence, which probably also explains why Schubert didn’t push for transformative change.”

Yet Schubert’s tenure experienced a decline in police misconduct complaints, accompanied by lower crime rates. He himself took a knee during a march for police accountability, and he was noted for keeping his promise to march in every neighborhood in the city. And even when former director of public safety Wendell Hissrich left when the new mayor took over, Schubert held on to his job with no outward signs of a search to replace him.

Councilman Corey O’Connor, who chairs the council’s public safety committee, called Schubert “dedicated and highly respected. Not just by the department but by neighborhoods and communities. After 30 years, the city of Pittsburgh honors him and all he did.

“He was a great leader and a great policeman,” Gainey said Friday. “He bleeds Black and Gold.”

Katie Blackley and Ariel Worthy contributed to this story.

Updated: May 27, 2022 at 10:39 a.m. EDT

This story has been updated to include comments from Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and additional details about Chef Scott Schubert’s career.

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