Irwin council votes to fire borough's police chief

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Members of Irwin council voted unanimously to fire borough police Chief Joseph Pocsatko at a special meeting tonight.

Council President John Cassandro and 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 to borough Solicitor Todd Turin.

North Irwin council President Kim Macalus, an emergency medical technician, came to the meeting to show support for the chief, who was not present.

Also present at the meeting were Dan Wensel, who was named officer in charge of the Irwin Police Department when Chief Pocsatko went on medical leave in October; and Officer Michael Thomas.

Officer Wensel said council asked him to start being present at meetings in December.

Chief 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 Chief Pocsatko 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 Irwin Police Department has two full-time officers and 10 officers on the part-time roster, though not all are given hours, Officer Wensel said.

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Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:


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