Chief nominee lays out plans for city police

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Nate Harper, nominated to be the city of Pittsburgh's next police chief, announced his plans for reorganizing the bureau's top brass today but said the status of outgoing Deputy Chief Earl Woodyard was still in doubt.

Mr. Harper previously said that Paul Donaldson would be his deputy. He said today that the assistant chiefs would be current narcotics Cmdr. Maurita Bryant, Special Deployment Division Cmdr. William Bochter, and Regina McDonald, who is already an assistant chief.

Mr. Woodyard filed an injury claim last week, he said, and is not reporting while on "modified duty." He would not detail the nature of Mr. Woodyard's injury, nor discuss how it happened, saying it was "under investigation."

"We're in conversation with the mayor's office" about Mr. Woodyard's future with the bureau, he said.

Mr. Harper made his remarks at a city council session and at a follow-up session with reporters.

Mr. Harper outlined his plans for the bureau, which include boosting the force to 900 from around 845 now, adding to the plainclothes Impact Squad's ranks, increasing attention to neighborhood business districts, and emphasizing increased "park and walk" patroling.

Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl plan to announce a $2 million state grant to cover the hiring of 40 more police officers this afternoon.

"Commanders will have more autonomy in their zones," he said. "Commanders will run their zones and come to me for resources."

He said he had no knowledge of the future status of Zone 1 Cmdr. Catherine McNeilly, who is on paid leave pending the investigation of an e-mail she sent to council regarding discipline against Det. Francis Rende, which was allegedly quashed by Operations Director Dennis Regan. Mr. Regan is also on paid leave pending a Law Department investigation.

City Council members lauded Mr. Harper's service and his nomination as chief. They will vote on that nomination Tuesday.


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