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Glassport police name new chief

| Thursday, July 31, 2014, 3:51 a.m.
Glassport Mayor Rosemary Bradley swears in the borough's new police Chief Cliff LaFever on Wednesday evening. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Emily Vasquez and Angelo Norelli of the Glassport Crime Watch congratulate the borough's new police Chief Cliff LaFever, joined by his wife Mary Ann LaFever. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media

Glassport Police Department has new leadership.

Council promoted Sgt. Cliff LaFever to police chief at a special meeting on Wednesday.

Councilman Eugene Skerkoski made the motion which was seconded by councilwoman Anna Kudla.

It was one of several police personnel moves approved by a 6-0 vote. Councilman Paul Trunzo was absent.

LaFever, a Dravosburg native, officially replaces Howard Kifer as chief on Friday.

“It's a great feeling because I think the council and mayor (Rosemary Bradley) and I share a vision and we'd like to see the department move forward,” LaFever said. “I'd like to take it to the next level. I'm not originally from here, but I love Glassport. I've been here for 10 years. I have more friends here in Glassport than I ever had where I grew up. There's a lot of good people here ... I want to get the community more involved. I'm a big supporter of crime watch. I think it's a great thing. We can't do this by ourselves. We need the citizens' help.”

LaFever started his law enforcement career in Dravosburg in 1992 when the borough had its own force. It's currently patrolled by McKeesport police.

LaFever was a Dravosburg patrolman until 2002. He was hired part-time in Glassport that year, promoted to full time in 2004 and named sergeant in 2006.

His new salary is $26.45 an hour with all benefits pursuant to a personal agreement.

“I think he'll get respect from all the officers involved, and he will make the calls that need to be made,” council president Dave Kowalski said. “They will follow his rules.”

Kowalski, one of the founders of Glassport Crime Watch, said LaFever will be “a boost” to the resident-driven group.

LaFever had a brief stint as officer-in-charge in Lincoln from December 2012 to August 2013, and assisted in that department's leadership transition when Chief Michael Lupunacci, 51, of West Hempfield died in May 2013. Richard Bosco was appointed Lincoln's chief in August 2013.

Council accepted Kifer's resignation as chief effective Thursday, and appointed him lieutenant at a rate of $22.10 an hour effective on Friday.

“He'll help with the transition,” LaFever, 52, said. “I'm proud to have served under him for the last 10 years. “I see a seamless transition. We've always worked well together and I expect that to continue.”

Kifer announced at January's regular council meeting he wanted to retire in July.

Prior to the special meeting, Kifer said he wanted to stay on the force for another three years so he could receive his full pension and hospitalization benefits when he retires. He plans to officially call it a career in 2017 at 68 with 25 years of service to Glassport.

He received a standing ovation and kind words from borough residents and officials on Wednesday.

Kifer, 65, of Glassport, was hired in the borough in July 1982. He worked for West Elizabeth police from 1970-75 and Clairton auxiliary police in the 1980s. He served Glassport as a part-time patrolman, then full time, and then as chief since 2003.

Bradley said Kifer will work with code enforcement officer Cynthia Passarell.

Glassport has five full-time officers and nine part-time officers.

Shawn DeVerse was appointed lieutenant at $22.10 an hour upon his return to work. DeVerse was a lieutenant in 2007 and bumped up to deputy chief in 2008.

Council eliminated the deputy chief classification from the borough's collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters Local 205 on Wednesday.

DeVerse said via a phone conversation that he was fine with the title switch, noting he'll retain his seniority and current pay rate.

He said he doesn't know when he'll be able to return to work, and lauded council's decision to name LaFever chief.

DeVerse was taken off the schedule on Nov. 18, 2011, to prepare to teach U.S. policing techniques with law enforcement officials in Afghanistan. He returned to Glassport in January 2012 after sustaining injuries in the eastern region of that country. Council granted an extension of his leave of absence in January 2013.

DeVerse said he continues medical treatment, including leg surgeries, and hopes to return as soon as possible.

In other matters, council approved the sale of a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria to David Leitzell for $750.

Kate Handra was appointed to the zoning commission.

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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