Once again, Monroeville native Doug Cole is the municipality's chief of police -- a job he has always called a dream come true.
Following a 7-0 vote by council at its Tuesday night meeting, Chief Cole was sworn in by the mayor. This comes after Chief Cole was demoted and fired in 2013 by the then-municipal manager.
"I look forward to getting back to work and tackling the challenges that lie ahead," he said in a prepared statement after being sworn in.
First and foremost, he said, the 2014 budget will be addressed. Other items on his extensive to-do list that have "gone undone due to neglect, poor leadership or lack of cooperation" include dealing with staffing concerns, ensuring that certifications are up-to-date and meeting with everyone from the FBI to school principals, the chief said.
Dozens of Chief Cole's supporters attended the meeting and gave the reinstated chief several standing ovations. Choruses of "yes" and "it's about time" could just be heard above their applause.
Ken Cole, 83, of Monroeville held the Bible while his son was sworn in.
"I'm proud of my son, the people of Monroeville and the council," he said. "I'm proud to see him back."
In August 2012, then-assistant Chief Steven Pascarella filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services alleging unauthorized users violated federal privacy laws by accessing personal health information from the municipality's 911 dispatch center. A federal investigation of that charge is ongoing.
In the wake of that accusation, then-municipal manager Lynette McKinney demoted Chief Cole to sergeant in February. He was fired in September.
Chief Cole will be awarded back pay to his demotion, solicitor Bruce Dice said.
Constituents this year voted in four new council members, a majority bloc. Council suspended Mrs. McKinney in November and fired her last week in a 7-0 vote.
Two men have since held the police department's top spot. Assistant Chief Pascarella became interim chief and was promoted to chief in March on a 4-3 vote. Mr. Pascarella resigned in November for health reasons. Sgt. Rob McConnell, a 25-year veteran of the department, has supervised operations since Mr. Pascarella went on short-term disability leave in October.
At Tuesday's meeting, Chief Cole praised Sgt. McConnell's work.
In November, Chief Cole won a dispute over his demotion. Attorney Ronald Talarico ruled at an arbitration hearing that he should have been demoted to assistant chief rather than sergeant.
Arbitration for a separate grievance Chief Cole filed concerning his termination is likely now moot, Mr. Dice said.
Lexi Belculfine: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. First Published January 14, 2014 8:22 PM