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Attorney General says Monroeville police dispatch records problems will not bring charges

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By Kyle Lawson
Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 10:06 p.m.
 

Infractions involving access to Monroeville police dispatch records were corrected when access was shut down in February, according to a letter from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office to municipal officials this week.

An audit by the Attorney General's office prior to February found that generic user names and passwords allowed Monroeville firefighters to access sensitive police information documented during 911 calls — including individuals' criminal history — that could cause harm to police or residents, according to the letter from Executive Deputy Attorney Lawrence Cherba.

Monroeville Manager Lynette McKinney provided a statement this week that states: “We cooperated with the investigation, we held those responsible accountable, and because of the professional manner that this was handled the Municipality of Monroeville will face no sanctions.”

Mayor Greg Erosenko said Thursday that he believed the audit by the Attorney General's office was overblown, based on a recent phone conversation he had with Cherba,

“If this was something that was serious, he would have sent subpoenas,” Erosenko said.

Joe Peters, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said Friday that while it was an audit and not a criminal investigation, the AG's office viewed the infractions as serious in nature.

“There were infractions, and if they were to continue intentionally, it could have risen to a civil or criminal level,” Peters said. “We demanded immediate corrective action, which was done.”

McKinney fired two Monroeville dispatchers and former police Chief Doug Cole as a result of the infractions. Cole, who sued the municipality after being fired, has declined to comment.

The letter from Cherba stated that Monroeville administrators dealt “appropriately with those individuals who were determined to have engaged in improper conduct.”

Peters said Friday that the Attorney General's office “had no connection or involvement in any personnel matters.”

Former manager Jeff Silka resigned in January after being told by a majority of council to either remove Cole or be fired.

Cole was demoted in February, then fired in September.

Cole appealed each of the disciplinary actions and so far has been awarded damages through arbitration for a violation of his contract when he was demoted. Two more arbitration hearings are scheduled Jan. 24.

Emergency officials have said that police Chief Steve Pascarella - who replaced Cole as police chief in February - installed the dispatch computer system and was in charge of maintaining it.

Pascarella told internal investigators hired by the municipality earlier this year that on a few occasions he informed Cole that unauthorized emergency personnel were accessing police information.

Cole supporters accused Pascarella of intentionally overlooking the issue in order to replace Cole as police chief.

McKinney this week fired back at accusations, Pascarella and the four council members who voted to promote she and Pascarella to their respective positions amidst ongoing investigations.

“Over the last 10 months, myself, Chief Pascarella, and four members of council have taken relentless public abuse and humiliation, threats, and questions related to our integrity. Because of the nature of the allegations we were forced to sit quietly.”

Kyle Lawson is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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