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Pittsburgh mayor names chief supported by black leaders

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH- Mayor Luke Ravenstahl named Nate Harper as the city's new police chief on Wednesday.

Harper, 53, assistant chief of investigations, replaces Dominic Costa, who retired last month, citing recurring medical problems from a gunshot wound he sustained in 2002 during a standoff.

"I've committed my administration to reflect the people of the community we serve, and this appointment supports that commitment," Ravenstahl said.

Harper, who is black, was strongly supported by black community leaders.

The Black Political Empowerment Project told Ravenstahl in a letter after Costa's resignation that, "Issues surrounding the Pittsburgh police remain among the highest of priorities within the African-American community."

Harper "would be an immediate bridge builder, which is so important in this role of both peacemaker, and as the chief protector of the citizens of our city," the letter said.

Ravenstahl said, "Chief Harper will be instrumental in achieving my goal to make our neighborhoods safer, and Pittsburgh one of America's safest cities."

Harper, a 29-year veteran, has also worked as the department's narcotics commander.

"I am humbled and proud to serve the citizens of Pittsburgh and thank Mayor Ravenstahl for this great honor and opportunity," Harper said. "I look forward to helping Mayor Ravenstahl make our city a safer place to live, work and play."

Earl Buford was the city's last black chief. He served from 1992 to 1995.

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