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Irwin police chief Pocsatko is fired

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Irwin police Chief Joe Pocsatko was fired by council during a special meeting last week.

Council president John Cassandro declined to comment on specific reasons for Pocsatko's termination and deferred questions to Solicitor Larry Kerr.

Kerr declined to discuss the case and deferred questions to Gretchen Love, an employment attorney with Pittsburgh-based firm Campbell, Durant, Beatty, Palumbo & Miller. Love did not return calls seeking comment.

Love will represent the borough in the Pocsatko's civil-service hearing, which has not been scheduled yet.

Irwin's civil service commission includes former Councilman John Fonzo, William Snyder and Walter Jordan.

Pocsatko's termination was approved with a 6-0 vote. Councilwoman Phyllis Thiem was absent.

Mayor Dan Rose declined to discuss the termination but said he agrees with council's decision.

“I can't tell anything,” Rose said. “But it happened, and it's OK with me.

“I'm in total agreement with council and its actions.”

Pocsatko, who did not attended the meeting, said he already has been in contact with the Fraternal Order of Police and a law firm to file an appeal with the civil service commission. He said he plans to file the appeal as soon as council gives him an official notice and explanation of the termination.

Pocsatko said he felt the termination was retaliatory in nature.

Pocsatko went on worker's compensation in October after he broke his hand in a scuffle with a North Huntingdon man in the police station.

He planned to return in December, but Rose placed him on administrative leave before Christmas, Cassandro said.

Council named officer Dan Wensel as officer-in-charge. He will handle the department's administrative functions, Cassandro said. With the termination, the department now has two full-time officers, and 10 part-time officers.

Wensel declined to comment on Pocsatko's termination.

Cassandro said council has made no decision about when council will begin searching for Pocsatko's successor.

Council named Pocsatko as chief in 2010, after former Chief John Karasek retired. He managed a roster of three full-time and 10 part-time officers.

In 2013, Pocsatko's salary was $44,994, according to the borough budget.

Pocsatko‘s 18-year career in law enforcement includes 13 years with the Irwin police department.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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