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Apollo Council may add part-time police officers

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 1:02 a.m.

Apollo Council may soon add more part-time officers to its police force, but it will not be quick to name a new chief despite recently firing former Chief Paul Breznican.

Council on Nov. 16 voted to fire Breznican after he was held for trial last month on theft-related charges.

Karen Kenzevich, a former councilwoman who was recently appointed mayor, and council President David Heffernan on Monday said the borough will not hire a new chief soon.

Heffernan said that although he does not expect Breznican will ever work for the borough again, he would want the case against Breznican to be fully resolved first.

“We don't want to jump in there and hire another full-time chief and perhaps dig ourselves another hole,” Heffernan said.

Breznican's attorney, Duke George, said Monday he has not talked about the termination with his client.

“I'm sure the writing was on the wall as a result of the charges filed against him,” George said. “I don't think it's something he did not anticipate.”

But George said council appears to have forgotten that Breznican is “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“Just because a person is held for court doesn't mean the person is guilty,” he said. “We have good defenses in this case.”

The borough's police department has two part-time officers, one of whom is the officer-in-charge.

Kenzevich said she interviewed several candidates for part-time positions last week.

She said she will recommend at least two and possibly three for council to hire when it meets Thursday.

The hires could be made that night unless council wants to interview the candidates as well, she said.

“I want to get them out and get rolling,” she said.

The borough is not looking to put any officers on full time.

“I believe I can get more coverage with more part-time (officers), so that's what I'm doing,” Kenzevich said.

Heffernan said he would not want to put officers on full time while the borough may still open talks with Kiski Township about contracting for police services or forming a regional department.

Breznican had been a sticking point in such talks, which Heffernan said have never gotten very far.

Any new discussion would not begin until the new year, he said.

“Everything's up for the future. We may talk,” Kenzevich said. “Right now, we're going to stay on our own.”

Funding for the police department has been increased by about 12 percent in the borough's tentative 2013 budget, from $69,100 to just over $77,200.

Police spending makes up about 13 percent of the borough's budget of nearly $523,000.

Council will vote on tentatively adopting the budget Thursday, with a final vote on Dec. 13. It carries no change in property taxes.

One seat on council is vacant following Kenzevich's appointment as mayor. She replaced Mayor Rich Dixon, who resigned.

Heffernan said council could vote to fill Kenzevich's empty council seat on Thursday.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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