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New Gainey Administration Will Not Employ Longtime Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Longtime Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich will no longer be in his position with the mayoral changeover.

Hissrich confirmed to KDKA that the incoming administration for Mayor-elect Ed Gainey had informed him that they would be seeking someone else for the role.

He was told his "services [are] not needed."

"I am beyond thankful to Mayor Peduto for providing me the opportunity to return to Pittsburgh as the Director of Public Safety. In my tenure over the past six years, I've learned that a leader is only as good as the people working for them. I thank every member in the Department for their hard work," Hissrich said in a statement. "We've seen lots of change, and even trying times together; and hopefully we were able to make a positive difference over these past six years. It has been my privilege to serve the City and help work towards a safer Pittsburgh for everyone."

Jake Pawlak, the transition director for Mayor-elect Gainey, released a statement, saying:

"After careful and thoughtful consideration, Mayor-Elect Gainey determined that achieving the public safety reforms that the voters elected him to implement would require new leadership in the Public Safety Department. Accordingly, he notified Director Hissrich that he would not be retaining his services upon entering office. Mayor-Elect Gainey thanks Director Hissrich for his service to Pittsburgh and wishes him well in his future endeavors."

Mayor Bill Peduto hired Hissrich in 2015.

When he took office, he told KDKA that one of his goals was to boost morale among officers and another was to improve collaboration between police, medics and firefighters.

During his tenure, he oversaw emergency response to some of Pittsburgh's biggest crises and events, including the 2018 shooting at the Squirrel Hill synagogue Tree of Life and anti-police brutality demonstrations that turned violent on May 30, 2020.

He was also Pittsburgh Public Safety Director when public outcry rose from the death of Antwon Rose in 2018.

Before taking on the role in 2015, his career was spent as a city paramedic and with the FBI.

A replacement for Hissrich has not been announced at this time.

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