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Four Monroeville police officers sworn in

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
Four new Monroeville police officers were sworn in at the Sept. 10 meeting of Monroeville Council. Mayor Greg Erosenko and Chief Steven Pasquarella are flanked by, from left, Matt White, James MacDonald, Chad Hoffner and Pierre DeFelice.

Monroeville officials swore in four police officers last week to help fill out a duty roster that had been about 20 percent smaller than officials say is budgeted for.

With a combined experience of more than 25 years, the new officers took their oath with the mayor and saluted the police chief following a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Monroeville Officer James Markel.

“These four officers bring a wide range of training and resources to the Monroeville Police Department,” police Chief Steve Pascarella said.

“We've stolen four so far (from the Pittsburgh Police Department), and they're not real pleased with us,” Pascarella joked.

The new officers bring the roster number up to 45, but officials said there is room in the 2013 budget for 50.

Pascarella said he expects the department to undergo more turnover during the next year because seven officers will be eligible for retirement in 2014.

Despite a real estate tax revenue shortfall this year and a budget deficit projected for next year, municipal manager Lynette McKinney said public safety takes top priority.

McKinney sent a memo to the heads of other municipal departments — such as public works — that directed them to submit at least one position that the department could do without in 2014, or other ways to reduce spending within their department, officials said.

The probationary period for new police officers lasts between six months and a year, said Sergeant Ed Lewkowicz, who helped train new hires. Supervising officers evaluate the new officers and regularly check in with the police chief throughout that time period, Lewkowicz said.

Pascarella said he has a plan to reduce the number of retail thefts and small drug deals throughout the Monroeville business district, but he said he would need a fully staffed department to carry it out.

As family and friends of new officers mingled before the ceremony last week, Lewkowicz said many officers in the region want to wear the Monroeville uniform. And not only for the relatively high rate of pay.

“We are busy enough that there still is enough excitement,” he said. “And there's a decent amount of guys on the force, so you're never by yourself for very long. There's always a backup coming quickly.”

Officer Pierre DeFelice, 29, echoed Lewkowicz's sentiment. DeFelice served with the Irwin Police Department for five years prior to being sworn in last week.

“I landed in the cream of the crop,” he said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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