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Demoted police chief may return to Monroeville force

Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
Former Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole could be back on the job next week, this time as assistant chief. A court-ordered arbitrator ruled on Friday, November 1, 2013, that the municipality violated Cole’s contract when municipal manager Lynette McKinney demoted him “without cause” to sergeant in February.

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By Kyle Lawson
Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 10:33 p.m.
 

Former Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole could be back on the job next week, this time as assistant chief.

A court-ordered arbitrator ruled Friday that the municipality violated Cole's contract when municipal manager Lynette McKinney demoted him “without cause” to sergeant in February.

“We fully anticipated that this would be the result, and we're glad the arbitrator saw things our way,” said attorney Michael Colarusso, who is representing Cole.

Colarusso said he anticipates that Cole will return to work as early as Monday. Cole declined to comment.

McKinney did not return calls seeking comment. Attorney Robert Zunich of Plum-based Bruce Dice Associates, who is representing the municipality in the case, could not be reached for comment.

An Allegheny County Common Pleas judge ordered arbitration after Cole filed a lawsuit in February that accused McKinney and the municipality of violating his contract.

Cole is entitled to back pay and benefits that he would have received as an assistant police chief since the time he was demoted, according to the ruling by arbitrator Ronald Talarico, a Pittsburgh attorney.

Cole's contract with the municipality and the town's home rule charter state that a police chief removed “without cause” would return to the highest rank held prior to becoming chief. Cole was promoted from assistant chief to chief in 2010.

McKinney fired Cole in September after accusations that Monroeville firefighters violated the employee handbook by accessing police information in the municipality's dispatch computer system. As the police chief at the time, Cole oversaw the dispatch center.

The Monroeville police department is among the largest in the county, with about 45 officers. The department responds to about 18,000 calls each year.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at klawson@tribweb.com or 412-856-7400, ext. 8755.

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