Schubert ‘humbled and grateful’ to be Pittsburgh’s acting police chief
Assistant Chief Scott Schubert grew up wanting to be part of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Now he will get a chance to lead it.
Schubert, 50, will become acting chief upon Chief Cameron McLay’s resignation. McLay announced Friday he was stepping down and that his last working day will be Tuesday.
“All I ever wanted to do was be a Pittsburgh police officer,” Schubert said.
Schubert began in the department as a Zone 5 patrolman in 1992. He worked his way through the ranks and was promoted to assistant chief in 2014.
A lifelong Pittsburgher, Schubert said he has been living his dream. His late father, Floyd, served in the department from 1965 to 1995, and his uncle, Leo Mullen, was an officer from 1950 to 1983. Mullen’s father served during the early part of the 1900s.
“I was proud of my father growing up — always loved the uniform,” Schubert said. “There was nothing I ever wanted to do other than being a Pittsburgh police officer.”
Mayor Bill Peduto said Schubert will have 90 days to “prove himself,” and the chief’s job has not been advertised. Peduto said the decision to hire McLay — outside the department — was necessary but that the changes McLay made will allow it to be run by a leader from within again.
Schubert said he was “humbled and grateful” by Peduto’s faith in him.
“I’m looking forward to making him proud,” he said.
Peduto gave McLay the authority to name an acting chief, and Schubert, McLay said, was the logical choice.
“Chief Schubert was the obvious heir-apparent,” McLay said. “He’s by far the most experienced. He’ll be surrounded by those who have been carrying me. I know he’ll be well-surrounded like I was.”
McLay reiterated during a morning news conference a mantra that has pervaded his two years in Pittsburgh — “change is hard” — but encouraged his command staff to stay the course with initiatives implemented and changes made.
Schubert said that, for now, that is his plan.
“I believe in them, and I will continue on with them,” he said of McLay’s initiatives. “We’re not going to stray from the vision.
“We all believe in it … and we’re going to double down. We’re going to keep it moving, and we’re just going to enhance it.”
Robert Swartzwelder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, said moving Schubert to the top makes sense.
“He’s the operations chief — he commands the largest portion of the force,” Swartzwelder said. “If you have to move somebody up … the best move to make is to take the person in command of the operational force and put them in charge and see where things go from there.”
The union and Swartzwelder clashed with McLay from nearly the beginning of the chief’s tenure, butting heads on everything from perceived contract violations to McLay’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention in July.
Swartzwelder and Schu‑bert worked as Coraopolis police officers in the early 1990s. “I’ve known him since his first day of his police career, since he first became a police officer,” he said.
“Ultimately, the chief of police is a political position,” Swartzwelder said. “It will come down to his relationship with the mayor, with the public safety director and the force.”