McLay taps Holmes for new assignment

Cmdr. Eric Holmes
Cmdr. Eric Holmes

Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Eric Holmes, who has been in charge of the city’s Zone 2 station for less than a year, has taken a temporary leave from his Hill District office after being selected by Chief Cameron McLay to work as his “executive officer” at police headquarters on the North Side.
The position is being called experimental, and though the details of the assignment are still unclear, they appear to cover duties that would have been handled by a deputy chief. Since the retirement of Paul Donaldson earlier this year, the bureau has had no one in that position.
McLay said the position is not a new assignment, but a temporary change in title and is part of his efforts to reorganize the bureau. He selected Holmes largely because of his community outreach efforts.
Holmes was highly visible, and highly effective in keeping things peaceful, during the multiple local protests that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. Holmes was also on of the officers who assisted in the updating of the “You & The Police” brochure, created to advise citizens on how to act during a street encounter or traffic stop with police.
Holmes and McLay will meet every Monday for the next few months to decide how to determine assignments and priorities and divide workloads. In the interim, Lt. Anna Kudrav will oversee functions at the Zone 2 station.
Chief Public Safety Information Officer Sonya Toler said the length of Holmes’ assignment hasn’t been determined because the chief has had to change his approach to reorganization.
“When he first got here he thought he wanted a civilian chief of staff with heavy data analysis expertise,” she said. “But because we have universities full of those type of people, he now has four civilians staffers doing that. So now he needs someone with other talents.”
She said McLay has gone through all the Office of Municipal Investigation and FBI reports regarding Holmes’ alleged double dipping while simultaneously working for the bureau and Slippery Rock University, and his connection to former Chief Harper’s failed security firm and found no cause for alarm.
“Eric has a platform few commanders do,” said Toler. “Most of the protests were in his zone so the chief worked closely with him from the start. And the community in Zone 2 is attached to him because of his outreach—the ‘fireside chats,’ going to the seniors in the highrises, and his ‘commander on the Corner meeting throughout the zone—other people don’t do that. The chief has that same approach.”
Toler said the zone will be in capable hands during his absence because it has before.
“Anna is a 31-year veteran, who has filled in for Eric on multiple occasions before when he had training or vacations,” she said. “She doesn’t seek headlines, she just gets things done.”
(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)
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