Upper St. Clair police chief plans to retire
He rose from a milkman with a high school education to chief of Upper St. Clair's police department. Now Chief Ron Pardini will retire at the end of the month.
Pardini, 75, said his more than 45 years with the department will end on April 30, though accumulated vacation days will keep him on the payroll until mid-June.
“It's been a great place to work; everybody treats you well, and the officers are outstanding,” Pardini said. “They're trained so well I can just sit back and let them make me look good.”
Pardini joined the department as a patrolman in 1969, after spending nine years as a milkman, he said. At the time, the township was very quiet and undeveloped.
“I could park up on Morgan Drive and read my first aid manual, and not a single car would go by between 8 a.m. and noon,” he said.
Studying in his patrol car between calls went along with nine years of night school and continuing education. He went to community college, then earned a bachelor's degree from Duquesne University, a master's from California University of Pennsylvania and underwent training at the FBI Academy in Virginia.
Pardini rose through the ranks to sergeant in 1975, lieutenant in December 1976, deputy chief at the end of that same month and chief in 1986 — a position he has held ever since.
In that time, he pushed for his officers to have a high level of training and education.
“All of our officers have to have at least a bachelor's degree; that's something that not all communities require,” said township Manager Matthew Serakowski. In addition, officers must meet minimum yearly training requirements, and higher ranks require more training and education, he said.
“What stands out most in my mind is Chief Pardini's commitment to the community, and his commitment to professionalism in the ranks. That's helped define our community,” said Bill Bates, a former township commissioner and chairman of the commission's public safety committee in the 1990s and early 2000s. “The chief is going to be sorely missed.”
Once he's officially retired, Pardini said he plans to spend more time with his family, practice judo — he holds a seventh-degree black belt and has won several senior championships — golf and fly fish.
While that might take up much of his time, Pardini said he remains open to volunteering for township boards and committees. He praised the commission and township staff for giving him the freedom to run the department free of politics.
“I've been extremely lucky to have spent the last 20 years working in Upper St. Clair with Chief Pardini,” Serakowski said. “He's what Upper St. Clair is all about: living here, working here, making it a better place. I don't think he's done with that yet.”
Deputy Chief Doug Burkholder will take over the day-to-day operations of the 28-person police department on May 1 while township staff and commissioners develop a plan to hire the next chief.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.