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New Kittanning police chief vows to be proactive

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader Times
Kittanning Mayor Kirk Atwood, left, administers the oath of office to the new Kittanning Police Chief Bruce Mathews at the borough building on Tuesday May 7, 2013.

KITTANNING — With his right hand raised and his left hand resting on his family Bible, Bruce Mathews was sworn in as Kittanning's new police chief on Tuesday.

Mayor Kirk Atwood administered the oath of office to Mathews at the borough police department.

“It's very rewarding,” said Mathews, adding that the last month and a half had been very difficult for him and his family.

Although Mathews did not comment on specifics concerning the details surrounding his recent suspension, which was rescinded by council during Monday's meeting, he did say that there was no basis for the suspension and the issue has been laid to rest.

Now it's time to move forward and start with a clean slate, said Mathews, who has been a Kittanning police officer for 20 years.

“We have a good group of guys here,” said Mathews, referring to the seven police officers.

He said because there is not a high turnover within the police department it's easier to build upon established relationships with members of the community.

Mathews, who lives in the borough with his wife and daughter, said he wants to continue building on positive relationships with students even after the schools close during the future transition to the new high school in Manor.

He said it will be important to plan community activities to maintain that involvement with kids, who he said, are a great resource to the borough.

Mathews also wants to encourage senior citizens to call 911 if they notice suspicious behavior or disruptions in their neighborhood.

“We're sensitive to their needs,” said Mathews and added that people are often afraid to report incidents out of fear of retaliation.

“Your name is not going over the (emergency) airwaves,” he said, adding that residents “have to be our eyes and ears.”

He noted that he will be working closely with council and Atwood to help keep costs down by prioritizing what the department needs and what it can do without.

And although Kittanning is still a relatively safe community, Mathews said he plans to be proactive when it comes to fighting crime.

“We want to be proactive, not reactive,” he said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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