Baldwin Borough police chief set to retire in 2019
Baldwin Borough police Chief Michael Scott remembers a call he received on his first week in the borough.
It was a resident whose car had been scratched by teenagers as they were pumping gas at the Sunoco on Churchview Avenue.
An officer took a description, went to the high school, found the teens, met with their parents and got restitution for the resident, who was calling to say “thanks.”
“I thought, ‘Holy cow,’ this is going to be different than I thought,” said Scott, 63, who worked for Pittsburgh Police for 23 years, rising the rank of lieutenant prior to joining the Baldwin force as chief nearly 10 years ago.
“The guys here like to investigate everything and they do a good job at it,” he said. “No crime is too small for them not to want to investigate.”
Scott announced his retirement at the Baldwin Council meeting on July 17. His last day on the job will be Jan. 31, 2019, which will coincide with the end of his term as president of the Western PA Chiefs of Police Association.
Baldwin Council members agreed on July 17 to advertise the open police chief position.
“We’re going to look both internally and externally to replace him,” said Vice President Marianne Conley, who also serves as the personnel committee chair.
Council members are exploring options for who will conduct the search.
Once the pool of candidates is narrowed down, council as a whole will conduct interviews, Conley said.
The chief will work as an “at will” employee, which Scott is as well, and not be under the borough’s civil service agreements.
One of the biggest accomplishments the department has made under Scott, Conley said, was becoming accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The department was not accredited by that commission for several years.
Scott also points to the department becoming state accredited for the first time.
It’s important, he said, to have a department have policies in place and have them reviewed by outside experts.
Scott also talks about the changes that The Alden South Hills, formerly Leland Point, underwent, after he contacted the district attorney’s office due to the deplorable living conditions and high crime rates at the housing complex.
“Not only was there a decline in crime, but it also made the living conditions up there better for the residents,” he said.
When Scott joined Baldwin police, the officers were using 20-year-old lockers donated by the high school. He oversaw upgrades to the facilities and worked to modernize the police department, he said.
“We had a good group of officers here, but they were working in such an antiquated space,” he said.
The officers work spaces were upgraded and officers now have access to more training, he said.
An interview room that meets standards set by the district attorney’s office was added to the police department.
When Scott came to Baldwin, he said he assumed the suburban department was going to be relying on county police for everything.
He found the opposite to be true. They only rely on the county for homicides or suspicious deaths, he said.
Officers want to investigate and that means a quick turn around for the residents.
Scott, who is the vice president of the Allegheny County Chief of Police Association and serves on the executive board of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, is retiring sooner than he had planned.
His wife’s family lives in Arizona and their only daughter and son-in-law recently moved there.
Scott and his wife built a house in Gilbert, Arizona, and it was completed faster than they planned. They get the keys in August.
Scott doesn’t plan to work in Arizona, just enjoy his time.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.