Mayor nominates Scirotto as police chief

PITTSBURGH — Mayor Ed Gainey has named Larry Scirotto, a former Pittsburgh police officer, as his choice for the next chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

“Join me in announcing the new nominee for the new chief of police, Larry Scirotto,” said Mayor Ed Gainey, at a news conference Wednesday morning at the City-County building in downtown Pittsburgh.

“It’s good to be home. I immediately reflected back to 1995 on Washington Boulevard at the training academy and I remember standing next to Commander Dickerson and I’m like one day, one day I’m going to be the chief,” said Scirotto.

Five years after retiring as an assistant chief in the Pittsburgh Police Bureau, Larry Scirotto is coming home. The mayor selected Scirotto, a Monessen native who is biracial, over former Pittsburgh Police Commander Jason Lando, who’s the police chief in Frederick, Maryland, and Ryan Lee, the former chief in Boise, Idaho, who sources said was the Mayor’s top choice.

But after our reporting that Lee was forced to resign over low morale and allegedly injuring an officer during a training exercise, the mayor went back to the drawing board.

Channel 11 Chief Investigative Reporter Rick Earle asked Gainey if Lee had been offered the job. Gainey would not answer the question.

“We were vetting everybody, and doing our due diligence and that’s what happened,” Gainey said.

When Lee was eliminated, many speculated that Lando was a shoo-in.

Gainey explained how Scirotto rose to the top in the process, and he said he has nothing but respect for Lando.

“You know, Lando’s a great guy. He’s a great guy, but the one that really demonstrated that he had an understanding of what was going on, a fundamental understanding of what was going on and moving on, was Scirotto,” said Gainey.

Gainey also confirmed what we had reported earlier that a panel from the Police Union, the Mayor’s office and the community helped select the chief.

Pitt law professor David Harris, who was on the community panel, described what separated Scirotto from the others.

“Executive maturity, his knowledge of the department and as it is and his vision for what it can be,” said Harris.

After retiring from Pittsburgh in 2018, Scirotto became chief in Fort Lauderdale in 2021, but less than a year into his tenure, he was forced to resign over a diversity hiring scandal.

Scirotti, who filed a wrongful termination suit against the city, denied any wrongdoing Wednesday and said he would not return to Ft. Lauderdale even if he won his suit.

“I was hired to create a fair environment where all the officers within the Fort Lauderdale Police Department felt they had the same opportunities no matter what the ethnicity was, no matter what your gender was, or your orientation and that’s what I did,” said Scirotto.

Scirotto is also a high-profile NCAA Division 1 college basketball referee who pulls down big bucks, and during the course of his career here in Pittsburgh and Fort Lauderdale there have been questions about how much time he spent on the hardwood.

He said Wednesday he would not be refereeing any more college basketball games.

Earle: Are you going to miss college basketball?

Scirotto: You miss the things that you love, but this is more important.

Scirotto, who inherits a department facing declining numbers, low morale and an uptick in crime, said he will focus on reducing gun violence through data and intelligence, officer wellness and building community-police partnerships.

“I’m a believer that the community is the police, the police are the community and that if we work together we can come up with and do great things to keep this city safe,” said Scirotto.

Scirotto, who retired in 2018 as an assistant chief, promised a top-to-bottom review of the department along with a reorganization.

“We are re-evaluating every process, every unit, everybody’s roles and in those there will be obvious changes,” said Scirotto, who indicated that his top priorities are targeting gun violence using data and intelligence, focusing on officer wellness, and community policing and improving the quality of life in the city.

“I have a simple mantra...be bold, and when we are engaging with the community be imaginative, and we will come up with some great solutions that serve the city well,” said Scirotto.

Scirotto will make $180,000.

Acting Chief Thomas Stangrecki has been leading the department since former Chief Scott Schubert retired last summer.

Scirotto’s appointment will be voted on by city council.

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