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Council approves changes for Irwin police department

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Irwin police department will get a new set of wheels, spruce up its office on Main Street and get a technology upgrade.

Council has agreed to give police Chief Roger Pivirotto the go-ahead to buy a 2014 Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle for his department as long as the price does not exceed $35,000. The chief said the new vehicle will cost substantially less than the amount budgeted.

Kenny Ross Automotive Group in North Huntingdon, which participates in a state program that negotiates the price municipalities pay for vehicles, will take two older vehicles the department owns as trade-ins, he said.

“They evaluated our old (Ford) Crown Victoria, which has a blown motor, and a 2004 Chevy Impala we have with 90,000 miles on it that would need about $2,000 worth of work to pass inspection,” the chief said. “They'll give us $500 for both vehicles, so we're looking at a final cost of about $30,000 for the Explorer.”

While Pivirotto was not necessarily in the market for an SUV, he said, it is a practical choice for police departments because of their size.

“The large Crown Victorias, which have been used as police vehicles for years, are no longer being made,” he said. “A lot of police departments have been replacing them with Impalas, but they are pretty cramped, especially for larger officers.”

In addition to more space, SUVs have four-wheel drive and higher ground clearance, which enable officers to drive off-road if necessary, the chief said. The department already has a 2010 Dodge Charger and a 2012 Impala.

Council also approved the hiring of A to Z Construction of North Huntingdon to remodel the second-floor police station, which also houses the mayor's office.

The $9,800 contract calls for repainting the interior of the station, installing commercial-grade vinyl flooring, refurbishing countertops with new laminate and building a “knee” wall, which is a low wall with a gate to separate the common area, according to a copy of the proposal submitted by the contractor.

Council President Robert Wayman said improving the appearance of the police station “is long, long overdue.”

“Quite honestly, it's somewhat deplorable now,” said Wayman, adding that council members would be asked to “work out the aesthetics” of the project when the time comes to select color schemes for the materials.

Borough manager Mary Benko said “it has probably been 20 years” since any improvements have made to the building.

The police department's outdated computers will be upgraded with two desktop units and a pair of laptop computers and mounting system to place them in police vehicles. The new computers will be outfitted with an electronic records-management and reporting system the borough purchased several years ago. The contract for the new computer hardware is $5,849.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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