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Whitaker officials seek peer-to-peer study to improve police force

Thursday, April 10, 2014, 2:31 a.m.

Whitaker officials are seeking a peer-to-peer study of their police department by the state Department of Community Development to identify potential problems and ways to improve the force.

Council unanimously authorized submitting a letter of interest to the state at Wednesday's meeting.

Mayor David Sabol said the study will help with “straightening out the police department.”

“They're not operating to my guidelines that I would like them to do,” Sabol said. “For the most part they are, but there are a few things that they're still not doing, and I feel they should be. We have officers put on the schedule for duty, and all of a sudden they're calling off. I demand police officers to be here and do their job.”

Sabol said an officer hired on a probational period was fired earlier this year for failure to show for work and “he didn't show initiative or seem like he wanted to work for us.”

At least two other officers resigned within the past few months. The three officers no longer with the borough were not named at the meeting.

The last peer-to-peer study of the Whitaker police department was in 2004.

Councilman Albert Race said the borough received five applications for part-time officers, and plans to hire two people soon.

The department has nine part-time officers including police Chief John Vargo.

Vargo declined to comment on the study or state of his department. He did have some safety reminders for residents.

Vargo said people “are instructed to not call an elected official or leave a message on the police station answering machine about police-related problems,” and they should call 911 to elicit a police response.

He said failure to call 911 slows or negates the response and could cause injury or loss in a criminal situation.

Parking has become problematic along the borough's narrow streets.

Vargo said motorists should not ignore parking laws and signs, do not ignore the needs of neighbors, and violations will lead to tickets and possible vehicle tows.

Borough solicitor George Janocsko said an agreement needs to be made between the borough and the West Mifflin Sanitary Sewer Municipal Authority regarding Mon View Heights apartments and “a handful of properties” in the borough.

The properties in the borough use West Mifflin lines, and need to be properly identified. The apartments are located in West Mifflin, but use Whitaker's sewage system.

Janocsko said Mon View pays its sewer bills to the municipal authority, and that revenue should be coming to Whitaker.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or



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