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California borough fires police officer, but won't say why

CALIFORNIA - A borough police officer was fired Thursday night, although council is being guarded as to the reason.

Rob Dorcon had served as a full-time officer for approximately a year and was a part-time officer for six years.

Mayor Casey Durdines said Dorcon would be notified today of his dismissal, but declined to specify the reason. The personnel move was made during council's regular monthly meeting.

"He needed to be notified," Durdines said. "We prefer he not read it in the newspaper before he is notified."

Council vice president Gerald "Galvie" Gardner said council had "numerous reasons" for discharging Dorcon, but declined to be more specific.

"We were very justified in what we did," Gardner said.

"If it was up to me, he would have been fired months ago.

"We are going to turn this police department in the right direction. It has not been going in the right direction. We as council are going to turn it around."

One step in that direction, according to Gardner, was the decision to demote the former chief, appoint Tracy Vitale as acting chief and launch a search for a permanent chief.

"We're not going to tolerate inappropriate activity and every police up there better know that."

Vitale was named acting chief last month, after the borough demoted then-Chief Rick Encapera in January.

At last night's meeting, council voted to increase Vitale's salary from $16.54 to $20 per hour.

Encapera had earned $24.25 per hour. Gardner said the reason for the disparity is because Vitale's current position is acting chief.

Applications are being accepted this month for the chief's position. Vitale has indicated she intends to apply for the permanent position.

Durdines said it will depend on the number of applications whether council votes in May to fill the position.

The move leaves the borough with four full-time officers and at least a dozen part-timers, Durdines said.

There are no immediate plans to hire another officer, but the mayor said Civil Service exams are being offered shortly.

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