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Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen Reflects On 52-Year Career In Law Enforcement Ahead Of Retirement

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After 52 years in law enforcement, Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen is stepping down.

He will soon be succeeded by Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus. But as he prepares to retire, Mullen looked back on his career and gave KDKA's Andy Sheehan his insight on the future of policing in America.

Sheriff Bill Mullen can't drive a nail or work a power tool, but he was born to be a cop.

"When I became a cop, things just fell into place," Mullen said. "I just knew things. I had feelings about people whether they were trying to lie to us. It just came naturally."

After college when his classmates went into law or business, he enrolled in the police academy. With a rare combination of book-smart and street-wise skills, he rose through the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police ranks, leading hundreds of officers and helping solve scores of crimes among the way -- though one stands out.

"The top case is the Shadyside rapist," Mullen said.

In 1987, Mullen ended months of terror with the arrest of serial rapist Joseph Jamieson. Before the age of computer searches, he pieced together scattered crime reports, saw patterns and cracked the case -- the kind of thing that made being a cop worthwhile.

After leaving the city for the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, he cleaned up a cesspool of corruption where bosses forced deputies to contribute campaign money to them, work on their homes and even chase their golf balls.

The first thing Mullen did was forbid any employee from giving him campaign money and began restoring integrity and professionalism.

"We changed that," Mullen said. "We tried to change the culture here. We rewarded people because they wrote good reports, made good arrests, and did what they were supposed to do."

Those people include several women in supervisory positions who said he demands excellence but leads with humanity and a dash of humor.

"He trusts and believes in me," Renee Wright said.

"He's firm but fair," Gina Dascola said. "That's a great description of Sheriff Mullen. ... I wouldn't be where I'm at today if it wasn't for Sheriff Mullen."

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

But in six months, he'll be stepping down from law enforcement amid calls for reform. He said he trained his people in de-escalation and implicit bias sessions.

"We just want people treated fairly," Mullen said. "Times are changing. If you don't move with the times, you going to fall behind, and you're going to get in trouble."

Despite the reforms in policing, Mullen said some officers will continue to make news in a horrific way.

"There will still be that one or two percent who will not go along with the change," he said. "That is our responsibility to weed those people out and remove them."

In his final months, the sheriff often takes a spin up in the Hill District, where he worked many cases and got into a few scrapes.

"It can be dangerous, it can be frustrating, it can be fun," Mullen said. "It's different every single day."

"I feel like I can still do this," he added. "But it is time to go. You want to go on the upside, not on the downside."

For Sheriff Mullen, it's a bittersweet end to a 52-year career, one that he has enjoyed while serving and protecting the public.

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