New Pittsburgh police chief vows to "prioritize diversity" without "sacrificing quality candidates" | Pittsburgh City Paper

New Pittsburgh police chief vows to "prioritize diversity" without "sacrificing quality candidates"

click to enlarge New Pittsburgh police chief vows to "prioritize diversity" without "sacrificing quality candidates"
Photo: Mayor Ed Gainey's Facebook page
Larry Scirotto was named as Pittsburgh new police chief this morning. He will assume the title acting chief until his appointment is confirmed by city council.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey today named Larry Scirotto as the city's new police chief, nearly a year after Scott Schubert announced his resignation from the post.

Scirotto, a Pittsburgh native, was most recently employed as chief of police for Fort Lauderdale, where he was fired following accusations of workforce discrimination for his efforts to diversify the department. Scirotto began his career in Pittsburgh and served here for more than two decades before leaving in 2021 with the rank of assistant chief.

He defended against the claims of "reverse discrimination" during a press conference today, where he said he was simply trying to fulfill a mandate he'd been hired to fulfill.

“The reality was, when I was hired at Fort Lauderdale, I was hired to build a diverse organization, and that’s what I started with the leadership team," Scirotto said.

Asked whether he would replicate in Pittsburgh the policies that saw him terminated in Florida, Scirotto emphasized commitments both to diversity and candidate strength.

“Mayor Gainey has not suggested anything other than to create a fair environment," Scirotto said. "We will always prioritize diversity, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing top quality candidates to do so.”

Scirotto said he plans to roll out a slate of swift initiatives to better align the department's resources with the needs of the city. The changes will, he said, be guided be three priorities: violent crime intervention, officer wellness, and community police partnerships.

“We have a lot of work to do so this reorganization, this restructuring, can’t take a long time," he said.

Scirotto was one of three finalists being considered for the job. The others included former Pittsburgh officer Jason Lando, as well as Ryan Lee, the former chief of Boise, Idaho, who reportedly resigned after coming under pressure for breaking a colleague's neck during a training demonstration.

Gainey maintained his pick of Scirotto reflects a "robust process" involving extensive community engagement.

“We did not have a candidate who was not great," Gainey said. "But Larry rose to the top. His deep ties to the city, inside knowledge of the bureau, and his outside perspective, makes him the right choice to be chief of police. Larry has shown in his 25 years of service that he is a capable leader... whose policies and work have made a direct impact on the people that he’s served."

Members of the community echoed Gainey's support during today's press conference.

"As part of the community search team, one of the things that stood out was [Scirotto's] executive leadership and maturity, his ability to explain policy, and his plans for the future," said Miracle Jones, advocacy and policy director for nonprofit organization 1Hood Power.

David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and another search team member, praised Scirotto's "extensive experience, executive maturity, and his knowledge of the department as it is, and his vision for what it can be."

Scirotto will assume the title acting police chief until his appointment is confirmed by city council. He insisted today he's ready to meet the challenge.

“Thank you for the trust you have in me," he said. "I promise you won’t be disappointed."

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