Safety agent: The mayor picks a leader for police, fire and EMS

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Welcome to the hot seat.

That may not sound like a nice way to say hello to Pittsburgh’s new public safety director, but it is a realistic description of what awaits Stephen A. Bucar, the FBI agent selected as Mayor Bill Peduto’s nominee to head a department that includes the police, fire, emergency medical services, building inspection and animal control bureaus.

The challenges involved in the job probably contributed to the fact that it took five months, through a foundation-backed search team, for the mayor to find a match. Two other candidates went all the way through the process before turning down an offer. Mr. Peduto believes the third time is the charm with Mr. Bucar.

The mayor said he was most impressed by Mr. Bucar’s integrity, which certainly is an essential quality given that the city’s former police chief now is serving time in a federal prison on conspiracy and tax convictions. The police bureau needs to start fresh, so the mayor made a good call in choosing someone from outside the existing hierarchy for the top job.

All of Mr. Bucar’s professional experience is in law enforcement — first as a police officer in West Brownsville, then —a Pennsylvania state trooper before joining the FBI, where he rose through the ranks while working in West Virginia, New Jersey and, most recently, as a supervisory special agent section chief in the Counterterrorism Division in Washington, D.C.

His first challenge will be finding a new police chief, and Mr. Peduto made the smart decision to have a safety director in place first.

Mr. Bucar will have to manage the large and varied public safety department while navigating the political waters on Grant Street. He’ll get a taste of the latter right away — his nomination requires approval from city council.

Welcome, indeed.

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