PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Acting Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich approached the podium Tuesday with Mayor Bill Peduto. It’s a dream for Hissrich to come back to the city and Peduto says he’s the right man for the job.
“We have the right leader for the right time,” said Peduto.
“There is a willingness with all three bureaus to work together like I have seen in no time in my 21 years in city government,” Hissrich said.
Hissrich’s resume includes working the ranks in the FBI, serving as a volunteer firefighter in Forest Hills, and previously working as chief of EMS for the City of Pittsburgh.
“I’ve seen how other cities have done good things. I’ve seen how other cities have done poor things,” Hissrich said. “Usually the poor thing is a not unified response, where you have a command post for police, fire and EMS separately and there’s no communication between the three.”
Low morale being an issue, particularly in the police department with a legal struggle over residency issues, Hissrich says it’s something he wants to work on but knows it won’t change overnight.
In the coming weeks, Hissrich says his goal is to meet with union leaders, but also to talk with the men and women who are serving the city.
“Not to micro-manage, not to do an inspection but to see what their concerns are, because a lot of times it doesn’t escalate up to the command staff what’s happening in the field,” he said.
He’s looking at giving police Narcan, to assist with a drug issue in the city that he believes has also played a major role in homicides. His other goals include tackling an excessive amount of 911 calls, which he says takes resources away from people who need them.
“Many times people call 911 for non-emergency calls and they expect the EMS, paramedics, advanced life support to transport patients as a taxi ride to the hospital,” he says.
While a date is not set, the mayor’s office believes City Council will vote to confirm Hissrich’s appointment in the next three to four weeks.