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Plum/Oakmont

Plum police K-9 program in limbo due to policy dispute

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 8:57 p.m.
Plum K-9 Officer Lee Temple and his dog Voda at work at the high school.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Plum K-9 Officer Lee Temple and his dog Voda at work at the high school.

A policy dispute has put the return of Plum police department's K-9 program in limbo.

After voting to disband the program at the end of last year, public pressure led Plum council to reinstate the program. But to do so required approval of a policy outlining duties of the police officer handling the dog.

Borough Manager Michael Thomas said that policy was rejected by the police union twice since December, most recently on Jan. 4.

“That's the last communication we've had from the bargaining unit,” Thomas said recently. “The borough's position is that offer's still on the table if they want to take it as is.”

Dave Seitz, councilman and personnel committee chairman, said the union did not explain why it rejected the policy and did not make a counter-offer. Union representative Tim Cerula did not return several calls seeking comment.

Seitz is hopeful a deal can be reached.

“We're trying to figure out how to get that done,” he said. “The policy's based on other boroughs' and I think it's more favorable than some of those.”

Officer Lee Temple, 48, the K-9 unit handler, could not be reached for comment.

Police Chief Jeff Armstrong said Temple remains a patrolman and the department would call Allegheny County or neighboring law enforcement for a dog if needed.

“He's a police officer first, and assigned a canine for much of his career,” Armstrong said. “Now that there's an impasse, he just doesn't have a dog in the car with him. His duties really haven't changed.”

Resident Bill O'Leary, who started a petition to save the police dog program in June, expressed frustration with not having a K-9 unit in place by now.

“I think it's ridiculous,” O'Leary said. “It's almost like they're giving us lip service.”

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 .

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