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Officers coming and going in Pleasant Hills

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Several personnel changes are upcoming in the Pleasant Hills Police Department.

By the end of the year, five officers will have retired, including police Chief Ed Cunningham, who will leave in December.

“It's very bittersweet to leave after serving 41 years as a policeman,” he said.

Cunningham said he doesn't have any set plans for his retirement.

“Initially, I will probably spend more time with my family and then go from there,” he said.

A replacement has not been chosen, but Cunningham hopes a new chief comes from within the department.

Lt. Richard Kelly will retire following National Night Out on July 30. Officer Craig Hall will depart at the end of August, and Sgt. Joseph Kenney will follow in November. Sgt. Richard Painter left the department, in June.

Brian Frankenfield, James Lauso and Scott Madar have been promoted to sergeant.

“They are very intelligent, very energetic and they really want to make a positive impact in the community,” Cunningham said. “Not only because of law enforcement details, but also maintaining that relationship we have with the kids in the community and with our organizations.”

Frankenfield, who has been with the department for 17 years and an officer for 20, generated the visits from Santa event and has been a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer in the West Jefferson Hills School District for 15 years.

After spending three years as an officer in Wilkinsburg, Frankenfield wanted to work in a community that he could also call home.

“It's a community close to what I grew up with in Brentwood,” Frankenfield said. “I knew every officer by name, and that's just how it was and that's how I've looked at it moving forward.”

Lauso and Madar have both been with Pleasant Hills for 10 years.

Lauso has been a Pleasant Hills resident for 30 years and worked with security forces in the military before becoming a police officer. He will now oversee the school guard training program and traffic reports.

“I've always been a big traffic guy, now I'm overseeing any traffic issues,” Lauso said.

Madar participates in National Night Out and the visit with Santa. He has been assigned as a firearms instructor.

The three officers will take on sergeant roles by September following a training period.

Pleasant Hills also hired three new officers — Kristin Mitrisin, Steven Onorad and Ralph Rush — to replace those retiring.

Mitrisin joined the force in May 2012 as the first female officer in Pleasant Hills.

Onorad and Rush were also recent hires.

“I think they will have a younger perspective to add,” Cunningham said. “They will be able to use their experience and bring a fresh outlook.”

The changes will bring department numbers down to 16 from the current 20.

“We have been fortunate that this is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence of so many retiring within six or seven months,” Frankenfield said. “It probably will never happen here again. That's what makes it really unique.”

Pleasant Hills is participating in the South Hills Area Council of Governments joint police testing on Aug. 24, but the number of hires is still to be determined. The deadline for applications is Aug. 2.

Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or bgoncar@tribweb.com.

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