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Irwin fires police chief

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By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Irwin Council voted 6-0 Thursday to fire Chief of Police Joseph Pocsatko, who says the termination was wrong.

After a 50-minute executive session, council voted on the “motion to terminate the employment of Chief Joseph Pocsatko effective immediately.”

Council member Phyllis Thiem was absent from the meeting.

Interviewed by phone minutes after council President John Cassandro called Pocsatko to notify him of the termination, Pocsatko said he was unaware of council's special meeting Thursday night.

If he had known, he said he would have attended.

“I believe it was a wrongful termination,” he said. “I've already been in contact with the Fraternal Order of Police.”

Pocsatko, 37, said he's also contacted a law firm to file an appeal through the Civil Service Commission.

Cassandro would not say what led to the termination, instead referring questions to the borough's solicitor, Todd Turin, who could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Pocsatko said he has served as chief more than three years and as a borough patrolman for 13 years before that.

He was placed on administrative leave about a month ago, Cassandro said.

That was just after returning from a medical leave after breaking his hand in a scuffle with a man at the police station in October.

Cassandro said the termination was not related to the medical issue.

Officer Dan Wensel said he has served as the borough's officer in charge since Oct. 12.

Wensel, who declined to comment, and another Irwin police officer attended the meeting.

No plans have been made to fill the chief's position, Cassandro said.

The department now has two full-time officers and about 10 part-time officers on its roster.

Those officers patrol both Irwin and North Irwin boroughs.

No members of the public spoke at Irwin's meeting.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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