PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto followed through Thursday on his plans to promote his long-time bodyguard to an assistant police chief, despite a wave of criticism from inside the department.
During the ceremony, the mayor addressed his critics.
“Many people ask why I would promote you to a rank of assistant chief... I look at a promotion within any type of department as looking for the people who best exemplify what a department should look like,” said the mayor.
Target 11 broke the story last week that the controversial move had ignited a firestorm in the department.
Some police officers complained that Sgt. Phil Carey didn’t have enough supervisor experience and wasn’t qualified to become an assistant chief. Carey has been on the force for 26 years. He served as an officer and a detective before being promoted to sergeant while serving as the mayor’s bodyguard.
The mayor, like he did last week, defended Carey’s experience as a colonel in the U.S. Army.
“You were a leader of troops much bigger than any zone or any command within the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police,” said Peduto.
Still others inside the department said Carey has faced disciplinary questions in the past. Target 11 learned that he failed to report a traffic stop on one occasion. The mayor called it minor.
“It’s not about the traffic stop itself. It’s about filing the report after the stop,” Peduto said.
“No concerns about that?,” Target 11′s Rick Earle asked.
“No. If it involve(d) some other type of situation, I probably would, but it’s a technicality,” said Peduto.
The police officers’ union called out the promotion process on Thursday, which allowed Carey to jump two ranks from a sergeant to an assistant chief. He skipped over lieutenant and commander.
The president of the union accused the mayor of fighting against the union when the union proposed allowing officers to jump to the rank of lieutenant or sergeant.
“We don’t care who the mayor puts there. We just want him to respect the process,” said the union’s president, Robert Swartzwelder.
The mayor said he hopes Mayor-elect Ed Gainey will see the value of Carey and leave him in the job of assistant chief. Gainey will take office on Jan. 3, and he could shake up the entire police command staff.
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