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Lower Burrell donates police car to Avonmore

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 1:16 a.m.
Lower Burrell Patrolman Derek Kotecki, the city's K9 officer, was killed in the line of duty in 2011.

When Avonmore Mayor Aileen Reid got the phone call about Lower Burrell making a donation to the borough's police department, she thought it was a part for a police cruiser.

It turns out, the city is donating the whole car.

“I'm flabbergasted,” Reid said. “This is one of those too-good-to-be-true moments.”

Lower Burrell Council on Tuesday agreed to forego about $3,000 that a bidder had offered for a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria the city was planning to sell along with two other older vehicles.

Instead, the city will donate the car to Avonmore.

Reid said it's no longer economical to repair the borough's old cruiser. Instead, the two-man police department has been making do with an unmarked car, which is the only other police car that the borough owns.

Borough officials were going to try to set aside money to use toward a new police car, but it likely will be several years before they can afford one.

“This gives us so much ease and flexibility,” Reid said.

Lower Burrell Mayor Don Kinosz said city officials felt the donation was a way to thank Avonmore police and officials for their support when Lower Burrell Patrolman Derek Kotecki was killed in the line of duty last October.

City Councilman David Regoli said Avonmore police Chief Jim Shaffer was one of the regional officers who responded to the scene of the shooting the night of Kotecki's shooting.

Avonmore also helped Lower Burrell staff its police department in the aftermath of Kotecki's murder, allowing city officers time off to grieve.

“When we needed help, they were here,” Kinosz said.

Regoli learned of Avonmore's need for a police car because he serves as the borough's solicitor.

Since Regoli has a conflict of interest, he abstained from voting on the donation. The offer was approved in a 3-0 vote, with Kinosz and Councilmen Frank Trozzi and Joe Grillo in favor. Councilman Rich Callender was absent.

Regoli said a new police car, including all of the extra police equipment, likely would cost Avonmore more than $30,000. He said the borough's department already has most of the extra equipment needed to outfit a Crown Victoria.

Reid said Shaffer met with Lower Burrell officials on Tuesday to test-drive the car and it was then the offer to donate the car was made.

“I would really like to thank their mayor, council and chief of police,” Reid said. “Just the respect and homage they showed toward Avonmore, especially in meeting with our chief, is greatly appreciated.”

“It's a way to pay it forward,” Regoli said.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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