Former Harrison cop ‘Bucky’ Taraszewski just can’t seem to retire
Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series that features Alle-Kiski Valley residents and the notable things that they do.
When Floyd “Bucky” Taraszewski retired after nearly 50 years from the Harrison Township Police Department in 2016, his wife jokingly scolded him.
“She told me I wasn’t just gonna sit around all day,” Taraszewski said, laughing.
Turns out she was correct.
Taraszewski enjoyed two days off before he was back at a township desk — this time in the zoning and code enforcement office.
“The township called, and before they could even finish their sentence, I said, ‘I’ll be there,’ ” Taraszewski said from inside his office at the municipal building situated among the Sheldon Park Apartments off Springhill Road.
A self-proclaimed workaholic, Taraszewski’s energy and ethics flow easily through his affable personality.
A wealth of township knowledge, he rapidly spits out stories of times gone by, giving a glimpse of the community Taraszewski has called home for 74 years.
Growing up along Eighth Avenue, he graduated from Har-Brack High School in 1964 and worked construction in a brickyard before joining the police force in 1970.
“When I got married, we moved to 12th Avenue, and I thought it was Beverly Hills,” he joked.
A lifelong resident of “Ducktown,” the neighborhood nestled off of Argonne Drive, Taraszewski recalls the “good old days” when all the men had nicknames — “Two-Bit” and “Legs” — and they all donned black jackets that let people know which crew they hung out with.
“The guys from Birdville had birds on their jackets and the ones from Natrona had rats,” he said. “Ours had ducks.”
“Bucky” was the moniker given to Taraszewski at birth.
Major League Baseball player Bucky Walters hit a dinger on the day he was born, Taraszewski said, “and my dad decided that’s what my name would be.”
As a police officer for 46 years, Taraszewski climbed the ranks from patrolman to detective.
Most days were routine, he said, with calls that never placed him in what he considered extreme danger.
“We had a few murders, and we backed up Freeport one time when kids were shooting,” he said. “But they weren’t shooting at us, they were shooting to scare us away.”
Still, his career wasn’t without exceptional moments.
During his first days in a squad car, Taraszewski responded into Natrona for two cars drag racing along River Road.
“They were both convertibles, and they were revving up when I got there,” he said. “The Ford went forward — and the Olds plowed backwards into me.”
Years later, in 1992, Taraszewski suffered a major injury when an 80-mph chase ended when him crashing into a telephone pole.
“I made it out of that one,” he said. “God’s been good to me.”
He wears a black silicone bracelet that reads F.R.O.G., or Fully Rely on God, as a constant reminder of his good fortune.
Taraszewski attends Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Natrona Heights and said his faith is his backbone.
His work ethic, Taraszewski said, came from his father who told him early on, “They didn’t beg you to come to work. You asked them for a job, so go work.”
It’s something that runs in his family.
Taraszewski’s sister, 77, still works, he said.
With on-the-job diligence that earned him a tough-as-nails reputation, Taraszewski insists he only was trying to keep people honest.
“People would probably say I was relentless,” he said. “I like to keep people on their toes.”
He never was able to walk away from an unsolved crime. He’d take a break and then go back to his notes a few weeks later.
“I wanted to solve the crime,” he said. “I didn’t want people to get anything over on me.”
But Taraszewski also had a softer side that he showed around kids. He once served as Harrison’s D.A.R.E. drug prevention program representative, who Highlands elementary students knew as “Officer Bucky.”
These days, his role as a code enforcement officer is less hectic but still finds him laying down the law.
He canvasses the township looking for violations like parking infractions and high grass. This month alone, he wrote citations for 12 abandoned cars. He also found five console TVs at a vacant property along Garfield Street.
“Back when I grew up, everyone cut their grass and picked their garbage up,” he said. “It’s frustrating.”
Harrison Township Manager Rich Hill appreciates Taraszewski as the workhorse.
“He’s hardworking and dependable,” Hill said.
Taraszewski’s part-time schedule still brings him to the office five days a week, six hours a day.
Not even a hip and shoulder replacement have slowed him down.
His twice-a-day gym habit is still going strong, just as it has his whole life.
In his scant spare time, Taraszewski enjoys traveling with his wife to Caribbean beach resorts like Punta Cana. He also looks forward to spending time with his three grandchildren for whom he regularly acts silly and pulls pranks.
“They call me goofy because they know I’ll do crazy stuff,” he said. “I wear masks and hide. I love to make them laugh.”
As for when he might officially retire — again — Taraszewski doesn’t see it happening soon.
“I can’t go like I used to,” he said, “but I still love to come to work and make a difference.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, [email protected] or via Twitter .