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Monroeville police chief takes short-term disability

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A Monroeville police chief is off the job for the second time in less than a year, this time for medical reasons.

Chief Steve Pascarella, 45, now is on short-term disability, officials said.

This is the latest in a series of personnel changes in the police department and Monroeville dispatch center.

Doug Cole, the previous chief, was demoted in February and then fired last month.

Police Sgt. Rob McConnell was named the officer in charge two weeks ago when Pascarella went on sick leave.

McConnell is running the department while patrolling the community of about 28,000 people.

“So, we don't really have a chief,” said Mayor Greg Erosenko, who has argued against the demotion and firing of Cole.

“We have a sergeant who is basically running the department.”

McConnell referred questions to municipal manager Lynette McKinney, who said she can't discuss personnel matters.

McKinney approved placing Pascarella on short-term disability last week for undisclosed medical issues, Councilman Jim Johns said.

Pascarella, who continues to be paid his full salary, couldn't be reached for comment.

As chief, he is paid $119,000 per year.

McKinney named Pascarella interim chief in February, and council promoted him to chief with a 4-3 vote the next month.

Johns said information from McKinney didn't name the doctor who backed Pascarella's disability claim.

However, federal rules governing medical privacy mean that the doctor's name may not be released to elected officials.

Erosenko said if he's re-elected on Nov. 5, he will work to return Cole to the chief's job. Erosenko, a Democrat, is running against Republican John Ritter.

In the past nine months, three different officers have run the department, which currently has 44 active officers and is budgeted to have 50.

Since early this year, nine officers have retired, one was fired, another is on administrative leave, and two died from causes unrelated to work.

Nine new officers were hired this year, although one resigned two months after being hired.

Seven more officers are expected to retire next year.

The Monroeville police budget is more complicated than those for neighboring police departments because of the number of people who visit the municipality for its business district and two hospitals, said James Lomeo, former Monroeville mayor.

“How does Monroeville keep an adequate police force under the budget issues they currently have?” Lomeo asked.

“That's really the big issue going forward.”

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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