The mayor of Pittsburgh has hired former Washington County district attorney Steve Toprani to lead an independent review of the city’s police department policies on officers who are employed elsewhere or own businesses unregulated by the police bureau.
The announcement Monday by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl follows reports that city police Chief Nate Harper and three officers under his command had formed a security consulting company that was supposed to have been inactive, and that one of those officers also was working full time as an interim college public safety director.
Toprani, a Republican who served one four-year term as district attorney and chose not to seek re-election in 2011, will begin working immediately for Ravenstahl, a Democrat, to make recommendations on reforming the policies, a news release from the mayor’s office indicates.
Ravenstahl said Toprani conducted numerous internal investigations into police policies and procedures while working as district attorney and understands “best practices when it comes to implementing measures to improve transparency and accountability.”
Toprani works for the law firm Leech, Tishman, Fuscaldo & Lampl in Pittsburgh and was assistant counsel in former Gov. Ed Rendell’s office.
Toprani, who prosecuted several police officers in Washington County, said the city’s police department faces serious allegations and that he “applauds the mayor” for seeking the review. While in office in Washington County, his investigations found alleged misconduct involving the evidence room at the California Borough police department and led to the firings of police officers in Monongahela and Smith Township.
“Some of these (Pittsburgh) issues involve taxpayer funds for positions that are sensitive to public trust. I am anxious to get started,” he said. “I appreciate the mayor’s confidence in me and the firm.”