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Westmoreland public safety chief resigns after less than 2 years

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 10:45 a.m.
Brian F. Henry | tribune-review
Michael Brooker sits for a portrait in his Hempfield Township home Monday, April 23, 2012.

Westmoreland County will pay two men to run its public safety department for the next six weeks.

Commissioners on Monday appointed Brian Jones as acting director of the department that oversees 911 dispatching and emergency responders.

Jones' appointment was made as commissioners accepted the resignation of Michael Brooker, a former Marine who served less than two years as director of the department, which has an annual budget of $51 million.

Brooker, 55, of Hempfield said he resigned to pursue other job opportunities. He will stay on the county payroll until Jan. 1 to serve as a consultant, according to Charles Anderson, chairman of the board of commissioners.

“We're not going to miss a beat. We'll get together and decide what to do next,” Anderson said.

Brooker, who was hired in April 2012, was in charge during a technology upgrade at the county's 911 center in Hempfield, as well as preparations for the center to assume dispatching duties for Murrysville, which will begin next month.

Commissioner Tyler Courtney said that, despite the successes, he has concerns about the department's future.

“There were challenges but nothing I am at liberty to disclose,” Courtney said. “I'm a pretty critical person, and I had some concerns that I had thought could be handled.”

Commissioner Ted Kopas declined to discuss Brooker's resignation.

“I'm grateful for his service and, beyond that, it's a personnel matter that I'm not going to discuss,” Kopas said.

Brooker said he chose to resign after he had preliminary discussions last month about another job opportunity that he declined to identify.

Brooker, who worked as a private charter pilot following his Marine Corps service, said the interested private company does not do work for the county.

“We did a lot of good work and a lot of hard work to bring to fruition the 911 upgrades. The time was right to make this transition as the projects are coming to completion,” Brooker said.

He will continue to earn his annual salary of $69,290 through the end of the year.

Jones, who was hired in October 2012 to serve as Brooker's top deputy, will be paid his current salary of $76,378 while serving as acting director.

Jones spent about a decade in Westmoreland County's emergency dispatch system.

He previously worked as a county 911 dispatcher then was promoted to a supervisory role as chief of communications. In 1998, Jones left to become Allegheny County's deputy with emergency services. He joined the private sector in 2002, working for Ebensburg-based L.R. Kimball and Associates as a vice president of operations.

Jones returned to Westmoreland County last year having worked as vice president of product development for Essential Management Solutions, where he supervised about 25 people.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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