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Backers of Monroeville's former police chief protest leave

| Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, 11:50 p.m.

Supporters of former police Chief Doug Cole attended Monroeville Council's workshop meeting on Thursday to protest a decision to place him on paid administrative leave.

Cole, the longtime chief who was demoted in February, was placed on leave by municipal Manager Lynette McKinney this week following a recent personnel hearing that focused on possible violations of the employee handbook during Cole's tenure as chief.

The hearing is part of the “due process” requirement for a government employee prior to removal or disciplinary action. Police attorney Eric Stoltenberg could not be reached for comment. Cole and his attorney declined to comment.

Cole supporters, some of them carrying signs, argued the decision was politically motivated and is costing taxpayers.

“We're still paying him, so wouldn't it make sense to have him out on the road?” Monroeville resident Ralph Greco said. “We're supposed to be saving money here.”

Five Monroeville police officers came to council chambers after the crowd started to get boisterous during one exchange between Mayor Greg Erosenko and Councilwoman Diane Allison, whose husband, Charles, is a Monroeville police officer.

One officer said the five happened to be in the police station, which is downstairs from council chambers. Another explained they “heard it was getting loud and rowdy.”

The officers stayed in the lobby for about 20 minutes before beginning to leave, one by one, as tempers cooled.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is investigating whether there were violations of health care privacy laws when Cole was chief. Cole supporters said then-Assistant Chief Steve Pascarella, who has since been promoted to chief, should be investigated for police dispatch information being accessed by unauthorized people.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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