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Arnold police chief steps down; successor to be named Tuesday

| Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009

Joe Doutt retired Saturday as Arnold's police chief but will stay involved with the department until his replacement is named next week, Mayor John Campbell said.

"(Doutt) just said he felt it was time for him to retire," Campbell said. "He gave no other reason than that. I asked him of there were any problems and he said there weren't. So, I said, 'OK.'"

Doutt, 57, of Lower Burrell, refused to comment for this story but said he'd be willing to make a statement once council accepts his resignation. Council is expected to do so at its meeting Tuesday.

Campbell said Detective Sgt. Eric Doutt currently is the department's highest-ranking officer. Joe Doutt is advising the detective during the transition, Campbell said.

Joe Doutt is Eric Doutt's uncle.

As mayor, Campbell has the power to appoint the next chief. He refused to say who will get the nod but indicated he'll make the appointment at Tuesday's meeting.

City officials won't say whom Campbell will name and even shied from confirming that Doutt had retired.

Councilman Ron Hopkins, who served as police chief before Doutt, refused to comment. City Clerk Oscar Doutt, who is Joe Doutt's brother, also declined comment. Calls were placed to each of the other council members, although none could be reached.

One officer comments

Officer Willie Weber said he knew of Doutt's plans but didn't know if Doutt had informed every officer on the force.

"The word is that he's moving on," said Weber, 49, of Arnold. "If he's ready to go, God bless him. I wish him the best."

Weber said no one in the department has a good handle on who the next chief will be.

"It's up to the mayor," Weber said. "I would appreciate the nod, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

Weber, who joined the force in 1981, has more tenure than anyone else in the department.

He also said the department made strides while Doutt served as chief.

"He led the muster, but a lot of the credit has to go to the group as a whole," Weber said.

Doutt joined the force in 1983 and became chief in 2004. His salary this year is just under $66,000, according to Oscar Doutt.

Campbell, a long-time friend of Joe Doutt's and the person who appointed him, offered praise for Doutt's service.

"(Doutt) was probably the best chief the city ever had," Campbell said. "There were never any problems with the other officers and there were no problems coming from the outside.

"If you asked me to say something bad about (Doutt), I couldn't."

Weber indicated there are always tensions that exist on the force but said the officers in the department do a good job of setting personalities aside and working for the good of the city.

As for Doutt's timing, Campbell said he returned from a two-week vacation in July and found Doutt's resignation letter on his desk at City Hall.

"I hate to see (Doutt) go, but there comes a time in every man's life when he has to retire," Campbell said.

The mayor added that he asked Doutt to stay involved until a new chief is appointed because the department "is working on some grants.

"(Doutt) is working right now to make sure the department is running."

Campbell couldn't speak to Doutt's future plans.

School district opening

New Kensington-Arnold School District is searching for a security chief. However, two school board members indicated that no one has discussed the possibility of hiring Doutt.

"There's never been a discussion about Joe Doutt," board President Wayne Perry said.

Perry said the application window for the position closes Aug. 14. He said he didn't know if Doutt had applied.

"There is going to be a security position for the schools," board Vice President Bob Pallone said. "We would like to have a retired police officer" fill that position.

"But I have never heard Joe Doutt's name mentioned" in discussions about the position, Pallone added.

Asked if he would have concerns about Doutt taking the job given that Eric Doutt serves on the school board, Pallone said: "Not really. Joe (Doutt) is a consummate professional. His experience would bring a lot."

Meantime, Doutt's departure is the second in this area within the past month.

Chuck Korman served his last day as New Kensington's police chief on July 2. He took a job as second-in-command of security for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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