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Group critical of Aspinwall police chief wins; David Caplan resigns

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, 10:39 p.m.
Aspinwall Mayor Joe Giuffre swears in police chief David Caplan in 2015.
Aspinwall Mayor Joe Giuffre swears in police chief David Caplan in 2015.

Beleaguered Aspinwall police Chief David Caplan resigned last week after about two years on the job.

His departure was effective immediately.

Council voted to accept his resignation but gave no details other than to say Caplan will collect pay for accrued vacation time.

A retired Pittsburgh detective, Caplan was not at the meeting and emails sent to him this week seeking comment were not returned.

Officer Dave Nemec will head the department while council decides how to proceed with Caplan's replacement.

Solicitor Steve Korbel said there would be no details released on the reason for the chief's abrupt resignation, or if he was given a severance.

His $85,000 salary included five weeks of vacation but it was unclear how much of that time Caplan had remaining for 2017.

Residents said Caplan last week cleaned out his office at the municipal building along Commercial Avenue, but council would only say that he was on vacation.

“Thank you, council,” resident Anna Hartle said before a packed crowd of about 75 people at the Nov. 8 meeting.

Hartle was one of many outspoken residents who in recent months questioned some policy changes recommended by Caplan, including a new location for firearm training and expanded residency requirements for officers.

Some people complained in October that Caplan spent too much time on administrative duties. They lobbied council to enforce his contract as a working chief that patrols the community.

Councilman Tim McLaughlin, chairman of the borough's public safety committee, said the staffing hole leaves many unanswered questions for next year's budget. Council is waiting for a police management study compiled by the state Department of Community and Economic Development before they vote on how to fill shifts moving forward.

“We will aspire to do what the report advises, and that means never having one officer scheduled at a time,” he said.

Council could vote to increase taxes in order to hire enough personnel, they said.

It was only a year ago that Caplan was credited with bolstering community relations by doubling the department's part-time staff.

In his time here, he acquired a grant to purchase an additional bike for his officers and Mayor Joe Giuffre nominated him for the U.S. Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or @tawnyatrib.

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