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Schubert reflects on balancing support for officers with calls for reform

Pittsburgh police chief Scott Schubert reflects on career before retirement
Pittsburgh police chief Scott Schubert reflects on career before retirement 03:09

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert is stepping down. Next week, he starts a new job with the FBI in West Virginia after a tumultuous few years in Pittsburgh.

Even as a little boy, Scott Schubert knew he would follow the step of a police officer dad and become a cop.

"When I saw how people respected him and how he respected others and how professional he was, I knew I only wanted to be a police officer," he said.

After rising through the ranks, he became chief when respect for police officers had fallen to new lows while gun violence was rising to new heights, often finding himself caught in the middle, balancing support for his officers while responding to community calls for reform.

"And that's ok. That's my job to be caught in the middle of it and try to unite," he said. 

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Schubert took a knee with protesters on West Liberty Avenue, which rankled some officers, but Schubert said the protest wasn't against Pittsburgh police but specifically about the actions of Minneapolis police and the death of George Floyd.

"Taking the knee for that, I don't regret it," he said. "I felt it was the right thing to do to help unite the community." 

But although Schubert initiated many police reforms including community policing and implicit bias and de-escalation training, his tenure had a major setback in police-community relations with the death of Jim Rogers in police custody.

"We didn't do what we were supposed to do. I can't talk a lot about it, but we have a duty to care for people in our custody and that didn't happen," he said. 

And yet amid all the calls for reform, gun violence has spiked. While homicides have increased the clearance, or solution rate, has fallen over the past few years. And this year, there have been no arrests in the fatal shooting outside Oliver Citywide Academy and the Easter melee at an Airbnb.

"These are active investigations you'll hear more about it in the future and I think people will be held accountable," he said. 

Still, Schubert says police need more help and support from the community to solve crimes. 

"Believe me, I understand completely how someone would be in fear of coming forward for retaliation but when you have violent people in the streets, we have to do everything we can working together to get them off," he said. 

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