Hiring part-time officer sparks debate between Arnold mayor, council
Arnold City Council voted Tuesday to hire two police officers over an objection from Mayor Karen Peconi.
Council, including Peconi, voted unanimously to hire Bruce Wigton as a full-time officer.
But Peconi cast the lone dissenting vote against hiring Frederick Hockenberry as a part-timer.
Both officers will earn a starting wage of $18.58 an hour. Their start dates haven’t been set. They must pass medical and psychological exams.
Peconi said she didn’t think the city could manage hiring two officers at the same time because it does not have the staff to train them simultaneously. She said Hockenberry could be kept on the civil service list and hired at a later date.
Peconi wanted the city to wait to hire a second officer until it learned whether it would receive a state grant for a school resource officer, which she said would pay for the second position.
A resource officer would be based at New Kensington-Arnold schools for nine months of the year and available in the summer to cover absences.
Peconi didn’t know when the city would receive word about the grant application.
Councilman Anthony Sgalio moved to hire Hockenberry as a part-timer after asking why a motion to make that hire had been removed from the agenda for council’s meeting.
Councilmen Phillip McKinley and Joseph Bia sided with Sgalio, saying the city needed to hire two officers.
Before the hires, the city had eight full-time officers, including the chief, and no part-timers, according to city Clerk Mario Bellavia. He said the police officers’ contract requires two part-timers to be on staff to cover absences, so the city will still be one short.
Wigton and Hockenberry were the only names given to council as eligible to hire by the city’s Civil Service Commission.
With the civil service list now exhausted, council unanimously approved activating the Civil Service Commission to administer a new test for full- and part-time officers. Solicitor David Regoli said the list would be good for two years.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .