Chief Cameron McLay’s Speech at the DNC

“There are many more police leaders like me, who are committed to improving the integrity of our systems, but we will fail unless we come together with our communities. We must each fight our natural tendency to hide inside our narrow world view…” — Chief Cam McLay, Pittsburgh PD


Chief of Police Cameron McLay, Pittsburgh
Chief of Police Cameron McLay, Pittsburgh

[Ed. Note: I am proud to have hired and promoted Cam when I was chief in Madison, Wisc. He retired as a captain and taught leadership for the IACP. Two years ago, he was chosen to be the chief of police in Pittsburgh.

Cam “gets it!” on both the leadership and community-oriented policing fronts. He knows systems, quality improvement methods, and the importance of being close to those whom police serve.

He gave a great talk to America last night on behalf of police and the need for police and citizens to work together. Black lives and blue lives both matter!

Thankfully, there are many more police leaders like Cam out there. Look for them and listen to them. That’s why we will rebuild trust and support of our police as Procedural Justice becomes the norm and sanctity of life will be at the core of everything a police agency does.]

Police Chief Cameron McLay –2016 DNC Speech

“Our colleagues across America — our brothers and sisters in blue — are doing the hardest job in the world. At the start of every shift, they go out without knowing what dangers await. And yet, there is a crisis — especially in the eyes of too many communities, particularly communities of color — a crisis of trust in police and the criminal justice system.

“Crime rates have been falling for decades, but research shows that public trust in police is eroding in too many places. Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘True peace is not the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.’ Our communities are arguably far safer than ever. However, absent a sense of justice, less crime in your neighborhood is a hollow victory.

“The controversial officer-involved shootings since Ferguson have created great tension between police and our communities. At the same time, throughout this nation, efforts are underway to improve relationships.

“In Pittsburgh, we are doing this hard, but critical work. We have open lines of communication with our community partners. In our city, we recognize our interdependency, and are working closely together to reduce violence and make sure our residents feel safe and respected.

“But things are fragile. Two police shootings on two consecutive days, in Minnesota and Louisiana, left many understandably outraged. And the assassination of eight police officers in 10 days have those of us in the law enforcement community rightly feeling under assault.

“All of these concerns are real. Without question, the criminal justice system has a disparate impact on communities of color, and society is asking more of our police officers than ever before. Laid at the doorstep of police are declining economic opportunities, insufficient resources for mental health, and the lack of drug treatment options.

“As a police officer that has served for more than 30 years, let me say this: We can respect and support our police officers while also pushing for important reforms. We can and must do both.

“There are many more police leaders like me, who are committed to improving the integrity of our systems, but we will fail unless we come together with our communities.

“We must each fight our natural tendency to hide inside our narrow world view, and instead seek common ground with the objective of creating an America that truly provides liberty and justice for all.”

View the video HERE.


  1. You should be very proud of Chief McClay’s development into the fine law enforcement leader he is. I listened to his speech with great interest and hope that change is coming to policing at last. It will be a long road, but finally, voices are emerging to challenge the status quo. Now this must translate into real change in culture and policy nationwide. And as a proud native Pennsylvanian, who has recently returned, I’m with you Gary. He’s ours now. Take care.


  2. Many believe that a speech by a police chief in uniform in a partisan venue was inappropriate. There is a lively debate within the profession of arms about the appropriate role of retired flag officers in the political process. Senior leadership carries with it exceptional scrutiny of motivation. How many flag officers will suffer doubts about their motivations due to the actions of their retired peers? Police chiefs occupy similar positions of focus and many believe they should remain scrupulously apolitical.


    1. I have mixed feelings seeing one of my command officers and former Commandant of my Marine Corps speaking at the DNC. Personally, I would not have done it. But then my job security was not dependent upon a democratic mayor in my city. But then… While I may not have particularly liked a given presidential candidate I never felt that the nation and its Constitution were in jeopardy as some might feel today and, therefore, need to speak out. Who is to counter the comments made by Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee at the RNC? Interesting times…


  3. The wisdom of active law enforcement leaders speaking at political conventions aside, I have a great deal of respect for Chief McLay. I may have mentioned this here in the past, but when the Pennsylvania Police Accreditation Coalition recently had one of its monthly meetings in Pittsburgh, he attended. That’s not unusual…the host agency chief typically appears for at least a few minutes. But Chief McLay stayed for almost an hour, and he actively participated.


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