Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Chief Finds New Role for Hill Zone Head Duties Appear to Fill Vacant Deputy Slot

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Chief Finds New Role for Hill Zone Head Duties Appear to Fill Vacant Deputy Slot

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay chose for an experimental new assignment a commander praised by some for his community involvement and criticized by others for his work outside the bureau.

Cmdr. Eric Holmes, who typically heads the Zone 2 station in the Hill District, began working in headquarters last week as "executive officer." Many details of the position are in flux, but some of the executive officer's duties in his first week resembled those that would have previously fallen to a deputy chief, which the bureau has not had since Paul Donaldson retired from that role earlier this year.

Chief McLay said the executive officer assignment is temporary while he decides how he wants to organize the bureau. He initially thought about hiring a civilian chief of staff with data analysis experience, but said he reconsidered that when he learned that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are home to several people with expertise in criminal justice and data analysis.

The chief and Cmdr. Holmes said they intend to meet every Monday for the next few months to determine their priorities for the week and divide duties. Last week, Cmdr. Holmes said he spent time reviewing a U.S. Department of Justice report on the Ferguson, Mo., police department, reading through recommendations from a consultant, and perusing literature about community-oriented policing.

Having Cmdr. Holmes take over those duties "allows me to be two places in one time," Chief McLay said.

The selection of Cmdr. Holmes puzzled some outside and inside the bureau. The commander was among several officers who organized a now-defunct private consulting business with former police Chief Nate Harper, who is serving a federal prison sentence on charges he conspired to steal from the bureau and failed to file income tax returns.

Cmdr. Holmes, with Harper's approval, also worked a full-time job as interim head of Slippery Rock University's police force while working as a sergeant in Pittsburgh. In 2013, while his Slippery Rock work was the subject of an internal investigation, Cmdr. Holmes attempted to copy part of his personnel file without authorization. …

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