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Community Leaders, Rank And File Ready To Give New Police Chief A Chance

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After investigations and scandal, rocky community relations, and a rising homicide rate, Mayor Bill Peduto has for the first time in the history of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau selected an outsider as chief.

"I think we have somebody who has the capability of being on a national stature," said Mayor Peduto.

The selection of Cameron McLay initially rankled the rank and file.

"Obviously, we're disappointed. We were hoping to have someone within the ranks. I think that we have a lot of people who are qualified within our department that could have been chief," said Howard McQuillan, the FOP president.

But the police union says it won't hold that against McLay. McQuillan says the bureau has been adrift for the past three years and they're happy to have someone will fill the void.

"We need to have some strong leadership," he said. "That's what we've been looking for as the rank and file, whether it's a chief from the outside or the inside. That's what we were hoping to gain."

Meanwhile, community leaders like Tim Stevens applauded the selection of McLay, in part because he is an outsider.

"I think because of the issue and the history of our city, maybe it's a good time to have someone who has no roots to the current police force and literally can have a new day," said Stevens.

Stevens and other community leaders are happy about McLay's development of a community policing model in Madison, Wisconsin, and his reputation for improving police-community relations.

It's something Stevens says is sorely needed here.

"The people in Madison seemed to feel he was one of those who was able to bridge the communities," Stevens said.

The FOP says it's looking for a closer working relationship with the chief going forward.

"We're obviously not going to see eye to eye on every issue, but I'd rather be in a room working together than working against each other outside a closed door," McQuillan said.

But given City Council approval, McLay will be the next chief and both the community and the rank and file say they will give him his best shot to succeed.

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