Pittsburgh’s acting police chief grilled by City Council

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh’s acting police chief Larry Scirotto faced some tough questions from Pittsburgh City Council on Thursday during a public interview that was televised on the city channel.

Scirotto answered a variety of questions on many different topics ranging from gun violence to manpower shortages to community policing.

“Gun violence is the greatest threat to our city,” said Scirotto, who spent 23 years as a Pittsburgh police officer, rising from patrolman to assistant chief.  He retired in 2018 and left the city to pursue other opportunities.

He spent six months as the chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department but was forced to resign after allegations of discriminatory hiring and promotion practices.  Scirotto was asked about his short but controversial time in Fort Lauderdale. He denied any wrongdoing.

“To suggest that I chose unqualified people to sit in these seats, was disingenuous and an outright lie,” said Scirotto, who has also filed a federal wrongful termination lawsuit against the city of Fort Lauderdale.

Scirotto was also asked if he would return to Fort Lauderdale if he won that lawsuit. He said he would not.

He was born and raised in Monessen and he said he’s glad to be home.

Scirotto said he would attack gun violence by cutting back on responses to non-priority calls like parking complaints. He suggested they may be better handled by the Parking Authority.

Scirotto said he will focus on community policing, youth violence and moving the department from a warrior mentality to a guardian approach.

“I challenge policing of the past to get away from the warrior mindset because it’s not beneficial and it will always have disappear impacts on communities of color,” said Scirotto, who is bi-racial.

Scirotto said he will also focus on officer well-being.

He said that will lead to better policing and better community relations.

He plans to give every officer at least two hours a week to relieve the stress through exercise, counseling or any other viable alternative.

And to address the rapidly declining number of police officers, Scirotto revealed for the first time that the Mayor has approved a second academy class in November, in addition to the one already scheduled to begin in July.

“The commitment from the Mayor’s office is we need to out-hire departures, and in that, we are doing so by putting this second class on,” said Scirotto.

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