PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh's new public safety director told reporters he wasn't put off by recent troubles in the city's police department, including an ongoing federal grand jury investigation, and a related theft prosecution that landed the city's former police chief in federal prison.
Instead, the appointee -- a former FBI agent named Stephan Bucar -- said that's what "attracted" him to the job adding, "I like a challenge."
“I’d be lying to you if I said this wasn’t a challenge. It’s a challenge that I feel comfortable with because of my background,” Bucar said.
Bucar's appointment to the $125,000-a-year job by Mayor Bill Peduto must still be approved by City Council.
“It’s an opportunity that when I was a child, coming into the city for those ball games, I never could have imagined I would have,” Bucar, a native of Washington County, told Channel 11’s Rick Earle Tuesday.
One of the 54-year-old’s first duties will be to hire a new police chief to replace Nate Harper, who was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in February for conspiring to create an unauthorized slush fund from which he spent more than $30,000 on himself.
Bucar said he will rely on his experience with the state police and the FBI to turn the department around.
“I’m going to be using that as a model to look at the department of public safety to see where the weaknesses are that need to be fixed,” he said.
Peduto said Bucar, who was with the FBI in New York on Sept. 11 and most recently worked on counter terrorism in Washington D.C., is uniquely qualified to change the culture of the police department.
“His training and education, his demeanor and his integrity made him the right candidate for this position,” Peduto said.
Peduto said Mike Huss has a lot to offer the city and he hopes they can find a position for him.