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Charleroi Regional ousts police officer

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

The Charleroi Regional Police Board on Wednesday terminated the employment of part-time police Officer Steve Kenyon, citing “conduct unbecoming an officer,” according to two board members.

Acting upon the recommendation of its personnel committee, the board ousted Kenyon behind a 6-1 vote. Kenyon will receive a letter informing him of the decision.

“It's somewhat of a surprise to me,” board Chairman Paul Pivovarnik said of the vote. “There was a lengthy conversation during executive session, and that's what came to pass.”

Pivovarnik, a Charleroi councilman, cast the lone opposition vote.

Speers Mayor Bill Lee, Charleroi Mayor Nancy Ellis, North Charleroi Mayor Lee Hall, Charleroi Councilman Randy DiPiazza, North Charleroi Councilman Bob Hodgson and Speers Councilman Regis Carroll voted in favor of termination.

The board had removed Kenyon from the work schedule in May after his girlfriend was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia while parked in Kenyon's private vehicle in Charleroi.

Lee, head of the personnel committee, was unavailable for comment Wednesday night.

Hall agreed the decision was somewhat surprising, but opinions changed after a nearly 90-minute discussion among board members.

“Steve was considered a pretty good police officer, so this made it a very difficult thing to do,” Hall said, “But we felt that in the best interest of Charleroi Regional Police, we had to send a message.”

Both Hall and Pivovarnik said the decision was based on a month-long investigation and input from Charleroi Regional police Chief Mike Matyas.

“Everything was carefully thought out and thoroughly discussed,” Hall said. “There are certain occupations where you have to be held to a higher standard, such as law enforcement and teachers, and I think it should be that way.”

Pivovarnik previously expected the board to place Kenyon, a veteran of the former Fallowfield Township force and a current patrolman for Monongahela, back on the work schedule.

“I stood by my position of putting him back on the schedule with a probationary period and a set of guidelines,” Pivovarnik said.

“I can't say much, because it was a personnel issue. But they really went on the question of conduct unbecoming an officer.”

Pivovarnik noted there were never any formal complaints or disciplinary action against Kenyon during his service with Charleroi Regional.

He added the board will look into hiring another part-time officer for a shorthanded force as the vacation season approaches.

Matyas did not return two messages seeking comment.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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