Plum Council accepts resignation of police chief

| Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

Plum is starting the new year with a change in leadership in the police department.

Council members on Tuesday night voted to accept the retirement of Chief Frank Monaco effective Friday. Monaco was hired as chief in 2007. His salary was $100,000.

They also voted to appoint Lt. Jeffrey Armstrong, a 20-year veteran of the 25-man department, as the new police chief at an annual salary of $113,632 and effective Saturday.

Both votes were 6-0. Councilman Donald Knopfel was not in attendance.

“I am sad (at Monaco's retirement),” Mayor Richard Hrivnak said after the votes. “I thank him for his time in the borough.”

Hrivnak credited Monaco, 64, of New Kensington, with working to get the most advanced technology in the police cars. He also said Monaco put in place in the department various procedures.

“It is a testament to Chief Monaco's excellence in what he has done,” Hrivnak said.

Hrivnak lauded Armstrong, 46, of Springdale, for his professionalism and working knowledge of the police department “that is not matched by many.”

“He displays two of the most important qualities – integrity and honesty,” Hrivnak said.

Council members also voted to approve a separation agreement for Monaco that gives him six months of severance (about $50,000) and a lump sum payment for all outstanding vacation and/or personal days not used as of Jan. 17.

Monaco has agreed to serve in an advisory capacity to the department for two years.

“It has been a very rewarding time there,” Monaco said in a phone interview following the meeting. “I appreciate the support of council.”

Prior to joining the Plum police department, Monaco had a 32-year career with the Pennsylvania State Police, retiring with the rank of Major.

Monaco said he has confidence that Armstrong will do a “great job.”

Armstrong has been at the helm for short stints in recent years. The new chief most recently ran the 25-man department early last year when Monaco was on sick leave.

Among the items in Armstrong's five-year employment contract are: retention of his existing civil service status; five weeks vacation; use of a take-home vehicle for professional and personal use consistent with the “personal use language” as per the borough manager's agreement; six months of severance pay if his employment is terminated “without cause;” and permission to live outside the borough.

“I appreciate council's show of faith in me to serve the people of Plum,” said Armstrong who was a police officer in Oil City prior to joining Plum. “I will do my best not to disappoint them.”

Armstrong said he looks forward to the promotion of a sergeant to the lieutenant position, and in turn, an officer to the rank of sergeant. A patrol officer also is expected to be hired.

“I am excited, and I know he will do a good job,” said Sherry Armstrong, Armstrong's wife who attended the council meeting.

Mayor Richard Hrivnak is expected to administer the oath of office to Armstrong later this week.

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