Channel 11′s Rick Earle has learned that the names of 26 possible candidates for the job of Pittsburgh Police chief were given to the Mayor’s office.
Of those 26 candidates, three were women.
It’s unclear how many minorities were included in the final list.
The Mayor’s office then narrowed down that list to three candidates.
Sources told Earle that two former Pittsburgh Police officers, Jason Lando and Larry Scirotto, were among the finalists.
Lando, who rose to a Commander in East Liberty, is currently the Chief of Police in Frederick, Maryland.
Scirotto, who was an Assistant Chief in Pittsburgh, left to become the Police Chief in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
His tenure ended less than a year into the job when he was forced to resign in an alleged diversity hiring controversy.
Scirotto has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city of Fort Lauderdale.
The final candidate is Ryan Lee, who spent years with the Portland, Oregon police department, and was then hired as the chief in Boise, Idaho.
According to published reports, after two years on the job, the Mayor of Boise demanded Lee’s resignation after he allegedly injured an officer during an impromptu tactical demonstration and multiple complaints of low morale in the Boise Police Department.
Sources told Earle that all three candidates were recently interviewed in Pittsburgh by three panels, one made up of community members, another comprised of members of the Police Officers’ Union, and another group of members of the Mayor’s administration.
Sources said that all three groups ranked Lee as the top candidate.
But the Police Officers’ Union said they were not told who they were interviewing prior to the meetings and they had no idea about Lee’s controversial background.
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Sources said the city reached out to Lee last week and offered him the job. Sources said he accepted.
The Mayor’s office had declined to comment, only saying they will name a chief this month.
At Pittsburgh City Council today, Council President Theresa Kail-Smith spoke out about our report that Lee had been selected as the new chief.
“We do not have a name. Council is hearing reports from the media about who it may or may not be,” said Kail-Smith.
The selection of Lee specifically over Lando set off a firestorm throughout the city police ranks.
Many thought Lando, a popular officer who implemented community-oriented policing in minority communities, was a lock to get the job.
Earle: If it is Ryan Lee, are you concerned about some of the issues in his background?
Kail-Smith: If it is Ryan Lee, I think we need to look into see what those issues are, the reality of those issues and if they are serious and significant issues with any appointment we will always go over and work with the administration to try to get to a place where we are all good.
Kail-Smith said whoever the Mayor selects, council must still approve the appointment.
The Mayor needs five votes to get his candidate approved by council.
Kail-Smith said council will conduct a public interview with the candidate, once they receive the name from the Mayor.
She said that would be televised.
Kail-Smith did express some concern about the selection process.
The city paid $80,000 to a consulting company to help with the search.
Earle: Do you question the administration putting forth those three candidates. Two of whom have skeletons in their closets?
Kail-Smith: I don’t question the administration, I question how did they get to that point in the first place. I question how did we get names submitted that there are so many concerns.
City council will hold a public hearing Thursday afternoon when they are expected to debate increasing the Police Chief’s salary from $144,00 to $180,000.
There will likely be some discussion about the three finalist during that public hearing.
Channel 11 reached out to the three candidates and we are waiting to hear from them.
Channel 11 also reached out to the consulting company, and as of this writing had not heard back.
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