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Pleasant Hills losing five officers to retirement

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Five Pleasant Hills police officers will retire by the end of 2013, leaving room for new hires and promotions within the 21-member department as the year progresses.

Those slated for retirement are Chief Ed Cunningham, along with Lt. Richard Kelly, Sgt. Richard Painter, Sgt. Joseph Kenney and Officer Craig Hall.

“The guy is great,” Pleasant Hills Mayor Warren Bourgeois said of Cunningham. “He has just been tremendous, and the borough is certainly going to miss him, but time marches on.”

The chief won't retire until the end of the year, so the search for a replacement hasn't begun.

“Being a policeman has meant the world to me,” said Cunningham, who has made good relations with residents a priority during his 37 years as a policeman in Pleasant Hills. He said he hopes he'll be replaced through a promotion within the department.

The department may have a different feel with new officers most likely being in the age range of 20 to 30, said Bourgeois, who isn't running for re-election this year after a long history in borough politics.

Council considering promotions and new hires, so that when the vacancies occur there will be officers in place, Cunningham said.

“The department will be very young, which is good because if you're chasing a bad guy over the hill you like a guy who's in good shape,” said Bourgeois. “We will have a very strong force and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what happens next year.”

What Cunningham and Bourgeois hope will not change is the police department's relationship with the community.

“I think we have a great department,” Bourgeois said. “The police respect the residents, and the residents respect the police.”

Cunningham said that with all new hires in the department, “We've tried to take them under our wing, and show them the value of the positive relationship with residents.” Police “rely on the residents as an extra set of eyes and ears” in the neighborhood, he said.

Residents have participated in and supported police programs such as National Night Out, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, program and visits from Santa around Christmas.

“I think we probably have the best residents in the state,” he said.

Matthew DeFusco is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2311 or mdefusco@tribweb.com.

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