“As of today I have learned enough to ask Chief Harper for his resignation and he has effective immediately,” Ravenstahl said Wednesday night. Because Harper is the subject of an ongoing investigation, statements on the reasons why the Mayor requested his resignation are highly limited, but primarily focus on Police Credit Union accounts that were opened by the department responsible for coordinating moonlighting by officers. Allegations include misuse of funds by Harper himself, on behalf of friends during high profile events like the G-20 Conference that was hosted in Pittsburgh in 2009.
Harper, since becoming Chief in October of 2006, has built a reputation for being a demanding leader, insisting on a high level of commitment from community organizations to the shared goal of reducing crime and violence on the streets of Pittsburgh. Beyond the disposition of the Credit Union accounts, Harper is also being scrutinized for a contract that was awarded to a one-time friend, Art Bedway, owner of Victory Security.
Beyond the Federal investigation is posturing among Pittsburgh Democrats, due to the upcoming Mayoral election. Notably, City Controller Michael Lamb is crying foul, implying that Ravenstahl has known much more than he is saying, and for much longer than anyone currently suspects, about Harper's financial dealings with City funds. He has stated that he intends to audit the Police Department at large, but particularly accounts originating out of the Chief's office. Additionally, City Councilman Bill Peduto is making similar claims about Ravenstahl's possible involvement in Harper's financial activities. Both Lamb and Peduto are likely primary challengers against Ravenstahl.
However, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, the one official speaking on the situation that arguably had the greatest amount of interaction with Harper on a professional level, simply stated that he wished the Chief and his family well. Additionally, Zappala stated that he had no real problems dealing with Harper on a professional level, and would wait to see what the investigation eventually brought to light.
Raw video of Ravenstahl's initial press conference on Harper's resignation is available in two parts - Part One and, Part Two.