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Versailles names Roka as new chief

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 4:41 a.m.

A longtime Versailles police officer has been appointed to head the department.

Sgt. Charles Roka is now Chief Roka, thanks to a 3-2 vote by council, with one member abstaining.

Council president Linda Sheedy said she was upset that state law prohibited her from voting because Roka is her brother, though Sheedy made it clear that Roka was not the applicant she backed for the job.

She said she preferred retired state police trooper Roger Pivirotto, the candidate that her husband Councilman James Sheedy and Councilwoman Cheryl Flaherty said they supported.

“He knows no one from the borough and I feel he could have brought our police force up to date,” James Sheedy said of Pivirotto.

The Sheedys and Flaherty said Roka, who's been a police officer for 33 years, is good at his job but doesn't have as much administrative experience as other candidates. They cited concerns relating to a part-time position Roka has with UPMC McKeesport as reason for their preferring the other applicant.

The borough received a total of 18 applications for the job, Linda Sheedy said.

The councilors were outnumbered by Roka backers at the special meeting, both on council and in the audience.

Councilors Gary Roscoe, Emerson Fazekas and Cynthia Richards voted in favor of hiring Roka. Councilman Dennis Keefe was absent.

Roscoe brought the item to the floor immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Protocol required that he wait until after roll call and other preliminary matters before he brought up the motion again for a vote.

It passed quickly, drawing applause from about a dozen in attendance.

“He's been in our borough for over 30 years and he's extremely qualified,” resident Chuck Hussman said.

Lisa Fleckenstein, Roka's sister and Mayor James Fleckenstein's wife, cited his experience.

“There are so many people who will be so happy,” she said.

Solicitor Krisha Mackulin said she advised Linda Sheedy that she could not vote on the hiring because it involved a direct relative. Mackulin said James Sheedy's vote was allowable because he is related only by marriage.

Roka, who was earning more than $19 per hour as sergeant, will earn $24.14 per hour with benefits, according to borough officials.

Roka replaces Chief William Kruczek, who retired in August after 47 years of police work.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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