Latest hires bring police back to full force
With a brief swearing-in ceremony on Friday morning at city hall, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko welcomed five part-timers to the city's police department.
Cherepko administered the oath of office to new hires Jordan Angelo, Matt Colbert, Isaac Daniele, Nathan Herr and Patricia Summers. The officers, who have experience working in other departments throughout the Mon Valley and Southwestern Pennsylvania, participated in two weeks of local classroom training prior to taking their oath. They will begin field training this weekend.
“It's a very structured training program,” Angelo said. “It prepares you to get out on the street by opening lines of communication with experienced, ranking officers who are able to give you their input.”
Chief Bryan J. Washowich explained that the officers will take part in six to eight weeks of field training, which will include daily performance evaluations. After that training, they will rotate their departmental duties to gain further experience on the warden's desk, foot patrol, vehicle patrol and UPMC security.
“I'm greatly appreciative of the opportunity to add to our existing force with five new officers who will represent our department well,” Washowich said. “Although we have strict fiscal responsibilities in terms of the city's budget, Mayor Cherepko has made public safety a top priority. These additional officers will allow this department to begin more proactive initiatives to reduce crime and the fear of crime.”
In 2013, McKeesport Police Department's ranks experienced one retirement and several promotions, including the shift of three part-timers to full-time positions. Schedules also were shuffled when the city entered into a contract with UPMC for a 24-hour armed presence at the McKeesport hospital.
The city is reimbursed by UPMC when officers work there, causing the detail to put little strain on the city's budget. It does, however, take officers out of the patrol rotation to keep the hospital staffed.
“The demand for 24-hour police services at UPMC makes our decision to hire these officers more critical,” Cherepko said.
The hirings bring McKeesport police back to fully staffed shifts of seven to 10 officers assigned to patrol without forced overtime, Washowich explained.
“These are the first responders and proactive officers patrolling the city's neighborhoods,” he said.
The mayor and police chief said all five officers should prove to be a good fit in the city's department, which includes 50 full-time and eight part-time officers.
“I really want to commend the chief on his efforts to research all of the candidates and narrow our selection down to these five, who we believe will be assets to our department,” Cherepko said. “We have a highly-recommended group of men and women who have police experience in other municipalities.”
The new hires are enthusiastic to start patrols.
“I'm excited to start in a structured department where there is room for advancement,” Daniele said.
Officers said the challenges and benefits of working in a large department such as McKeesport will enhance their careers. Some have a sentiment for the city.
“I'm excited to work for a department in my hometown,” Colbert said. “This is where I grew up.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.