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North Huntingdon begins search for police chief

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, 11:39 p.m.
North Huntingdon police Lt. Rod Mahinske has been in charge of the department since the township fired Chief Andrew Lisiecki in September 2016.
Joe Napsha | Tribune-Review
North Huntingdon police Lt. Rod Mahinske has been in charge of the department since the township fired Chief Andrew Lisiecki in September 2016.

It's official. North Huntingdon has launched its search for a new police chief, starting with those officers already on the police force.

The North Huntingdon commissioners Wednesday authorized starting the process of seeking a new chief, one who has either a bachelor's degree or at least 15 years' experience in law enforcement, including four years in command of other officers.

Commissioner Duane Kucera, a retired township police officer, said about 10 members of the police department would be eligible to apply for chief under that criteria.

In addition to meeting the requirements for an advanced degree or experience, Kucera said the township will require candidates to undergo a physical, a psychological evaluation and a background check.

The job requirements are similar to those used in previous hirings of the police chief, said Jeff Silka, township manager.

While internal candidates initially will have the exclusive opportunity to apply for the position, Kucera said that typically lasts 30 days. The hiring process could take a few months and could be open to external candidates if a member of the department is not hired.

The last time North Huntingdon sought a police chief, the commissioners hired Andrew Lisiecki, the police chief in Green Tree, in May 2012. But Lisiecki was fired in September 2016, and the department has been without a chief since.

Lisiecki responded by filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in December 2016 against the township and the four commissioners who voted against him. He is seeking $300,000 for what he claimed was a violation of his constitutional rights when he was fired. The suit remains in court.

Since Lisiecki's firing, Lt. Rod Mahinske, the police force's ranking officer, has been in charge of the department. The commissioners did not appoint him acting chief, and he has not received a salary increase as a result of assuming the extra responsibility of heading the department.

Mahinske has said he is interested in applying for the chief's job.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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