Members of Irwin council voted unanimously to fire Police Chief Joseph Pocsatko at a special meeting Thursday night, but the chief, a member of the force for more than a decade, can appeal the decision.
Council President John Cassandro and council members Bob Wayman, Debbie Kelly, Peggie Watson, Gail Macioce and Joanna Jordan voted for the firing. Councilwoman Phyllis Thiem was absent.
After the meeting, borough manager Mary Benko, Mr. Cassandro and Mayor Dan Rose declined to comment on the reason for the firing. Officials referred all questions Thursday to borough solicitor Todd Turin.
North Irwin borough council President Kim Macalus, an emergency medical technician, came to the meeting to show support for the chief, who was not present. No residents spoke at the meeting.
Also present were Officers Michael Thomas and Dan Wensel, who was named officer-in-charge of the Irwin Police Department when Mr. Pocsatko went on medical leave in October.
Officer Wensel said council asked him to start attending meetings in December.
Mr. Pocsatko had been placed on medical leave after injuring his hand during an altercation with a suspect in October, Officer Wensel said.
Earlier, Mr. Rose said the chief had received a doctor's approval to return to work, but council instead opted to place him on administrative leave last month. Mr. Rose also said council had hired an investigator to look into "a number of incidents."
"The whole point is this: It's important what impact the chief of police makes on the borough ... if procedures aren't followed," Mr. Rose said earlier.
The department has two full-time officers, Wensel and Thomas, and 10 part-timers.
Officer Wensel said he is unsure who council will select to be the new police chief.
This week, a representative of Mr. Turin's office said three civil service commissioners, including William Snyder and John Fonzo, who were appointed during Thursday night's council meeting, will serve as judges in the matter of the firing dispute.
Mr. Pocsatko must formally request a hearing within 10 days of receiving his letter with its attached reasons for the firing. The civil service hearing could be held anytime from 10 days to several months after his request, the representative said.
Ronald Retsch, Mr. Pocsatko's attorney, said Monday that he will not comment on the case at this time.
Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: email@example.com. Staff writer Annie Siebert contributed to this report.