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Kittanning's new police chief: Shortchanging the public

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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Friday, May 10, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
 

Kittanning Borough got a new police chief this week. Certainly a town the size of Kittanning needs a police chief, somebody to not only oversee policing but to be a liaison between the department and the public, including council and neighboring towns.

Here is what Kittanning citizens did not get:

In hiring the chief, council said it was dismissing whatever complaint had been lodged against him that resulted in a temporary suspension. Citizens didn't get any further explanation because council cited prohibitions in the contract with police that stipulate neither side can discuss such disciplinary action.

So, the public be damned.

Did council ever consider hiring a chief who was not part of the bargaining unit — considering the chief is a manager with more accountability to the public than the other officers?

The new chief, former patrolman Bruce Matthews, was not given an opportunity to stand before council and publicly tell those who hired him what he likes about the department and what he wants to improve. Is the department sufficiently funded? What are the major public safety issues? How will Chief Matthews enhance communication between law officers and the community? He may well have answered these question in the interview process, but the council forum would have been the ideal place to talk about such things.

At least residents would have appreciated it. Remember those folks?

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