The Morning File: ISO new city police chief? Time to think outside the box ...
Dear Mayor Ravenstahl:
I heard something about an opening for a new police chief in the city of Pittsburgh. This is great timing, as I've got a good candidate to fill the vacancy left by Nate Harper: moi!
I've been looking for a moonlighting position, and I read recently that a member of your own police bureau showed that it's possible to work a full-time job and then spend another 40 hours a week being a police chief of a nearby college. (Isn't caffeine wonderful?)
I'm not too busy in the evenings, now that "Jersey Shore" is off the air, so I could easily swing by headquarters at the end of each day to run things. After all, most of your serious criminals are doing their work at night -- I might as well be out there chasing them down after dark, instead of sitting behind a desk all day like some bureaucrat who just happens to look good in uniform.
Now I know you've had a few problems surrounding the police department's handling of money, among other issues. It's nothing that can't be remedied, so long as you bring in an outsider like myself who's untainted by ties to the past regime. I would make sure all checks, cash, gold, etc., come directly to my desk so that no one else can interfere. The buck stops here (as well as fives and 20s)!
I believe I can also be of assistance in improving community-police relations. For starters, undercover officers will be instructed that if they see teenagers walking around at night suspiciously appearing to carry what may be Mountain Dew bottles, they are not to interfere. "Leave the soda drinkers alone, unless they're violently shaking the bottle and preparing to spray it on someone!" they'll be instructed each morning at roll call.
And I'm pretty sure you'd agree we want to avoid a repeat of the type of problems associated with control of demonstrators and others during the G-20 Summit in 2009. There were a lot of complaints about that sonic noise device used on the young crowds, and I believe we could attain the same objective of dispersal if we piped in some loud Perry Como and Bobby Vinton tunes.
As for beating up those who claim they're trying to innocently mind their own business, I, like my predecessors, am quite willing to turn a blind eye to a little boys-in-blue-will-be-boys-in-blue roughhousing. A good supervisor understands that letting them release pent-up hostility that way will avoid their taking things out on the wives, girlfriends and mistresses later.
That brings me to the No. 1 change I would make in how things are done among Pittsburgh's finest, based on many fine police movies. I have noticed that our police officers tend to patrol alone behind the wheel of their vehicles, and that's a problem.
Where's the sassy repartee? Where's the juxtaposition of the aggressive, neat, well-muscled, green rookie and the sloppy, out-of-shape, grizzled but knowledgeable veteran, overcoming their differences of age, race and attitude to form a bond that makes for good comic drama?
We can't have a bunch of loners out there, with no partner in whom to confide their many personal problems. We'll buddy them up again in cruisers like the old days -- and we'll put the bicycle cops on bikes built for two, which will likely get us some nice national publicity.
Frankly, most of my knowledge of police work comes from television and film. I know the good cop-bad cop routine as well as anyone, and I would make it a point to let everyone on the force play the good cop at least once a week, because I've seen how resentful even the meanest detectives are when they never get that chance.
There you have a good bit of my agenda as chief. There also seems to be some estrangement at present from one of your former bodyguards on the police force, and I would avoid that in the future by serving as your bodyguard myself. You apparently get to go to a lot of neat events and meet a lot of cool people -- or at least try to -- so I wouldn't mind carving out some time for this duty as well.
I look forward to spending time together helping plan for hosting of the 2024 Summer Olympics, as well as anything else you want to talk about. I can double -- with no extra pay, I might add -- as an adviser for the mayoral re-election campaign. (Free hint now to prove my acumen: Just keep getting more challengers to enter the race.)
I look forward to hearing back from you, Mr. Mayor, once you're done with all of the FBI interviews.
First Published February 25, 2013 12:01 am