Dormont council ready to reach out to police
With turmoil over who controls the Dormont Police Department no longer a factor, borough council intends to appoint a chief on Monday.
“I don't know if I would've gone for the chief's job a couple years ago,” said Sgt. Michael Bisignani, 37, who expects to get the job.
Dormont officials spent much of 2011 battling over who could give orders to the 12-member department and control its operations. Then-manager Gino Rizza, backed by a council majority, was pitted against Mayor Tom Lloyd, who had the support of police Chief Phil Ross.
Ross bore the brunt of the argument. He was demoted to sergeant and then patrolman. Other sergeants were promoted to acting chief and an administrative chief was hired and quit before the arguments — which included lawsuits over demotions — ended when a council majority took over in 2012.
Rizza resigned, and Ross was reinstated. He is expected to retire on March 3 but agreed to stay to train his replacement.
“The council and manager are very supportive of (police),” said Bisignani, who joined the force in 2001. “Now's a good time to reach out and work with them.”
Bisignani said he has spent most of his years in Dormont working late shifts. “You see a different crowd during the day,” Bisignani said. “People have asked me, ‘Are you new here?' and I say, ‘No, I've been here 12 years.' ”
Under the resolution, Bisignani's annual salary as chief would be $90,492, 10 percent more than the top salary for a sergeant, borough Manager Jeff Naftal said.
A native of Pleasant Hills, Bisignani has a degree in administration of justice from the University of Pittsburgh and joined the Clairton Police Department in 1999. He became a sergeant in Dormont three years ago.
A few months after joining Dormont, Bisignani was among the first officers called to a homicide at the former Book Rack bookstore on Potomac Avenue. The state later recognized him and several other officers for working with Allegheny County detectives to apprehend a homeless man who confessed to beating store owner Ann Schmidt to death when she refused him money.
Bisignani has worked with the District Attorney's Narcotics Enforcement Team and has trained to process evidence such as fingerprints, shoe prints and tire impressions.
As chief, he hopes to work with Naftal and the South Hills Council of Governments to expand training options for Dormont's officers, such as weapons training and joint exercises with Mt. Lebanon and Castle Shannon police on responding to emergencies at schools.
Bisignani said he plans to be a “working chief,” answering calls and patrolling the borough.
“I plan to lead by example. I want my guys to see me at the same training, on the same calls,” he said.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes
- Children treated to gifts, peaceful holiday party at Lincoln-Lemington church
- Christmas in Western Pa. predicted to be ‘slightly white’
- Tree recycling offered at Allegheny County parks
- Newsmaker: Patrick Juola
- Pittsburgh adjusting to new bicycle lane, ‘stop boxes’
- Brashear High ‘little libraries’ program rolls out
- Butler legislator gives weekly GOP address
- Environmental teachers glean new ideas from networking
- 3 Pittsburgh police supervisors promoted to rank of commander
- Icy roads, cold causing school delays, wrecks in Western Pa.