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Captain chosen, sworn in as Greensburg’s new police chief | TribLIVE.com
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Captain chosen, sworn in as Greensburg’s new police chief

Tribune-Review
| Monday, March 14, 2016 11:05 p.m.
gtrzucco031516
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Chad Zucco (left) is sworn in as Greensburg's police chief by Mayor Robert Bell, with Zucco's daughter, Natalia, 15, holding the Bible, on Monday, March 14, 2016.

The search for Greensburg’s next police chief ended Monday as Mayor Robert Bell swore in Chad Zucco, an 18-year veteran of the force who has spent the last three years as captain.

Council approved Zucco’s promotion Monday.

Zucco, 43, replaces Walter J. “Wally” Lyons, who unexpectedly retired in January.

“I’m excited,” Zucco said. “I see it as a good opportunity to bring everyone together and move forward. I think we have a great department. We have an overwhelming amount of expertise here.”

The department’s veterans are supplemented by the many young officers who have joined the force in the past three years. The department has struggled to keep up with a wave of experienced personnel retiring or resigning. It’s lost 10 officers in the last three years.

Zucco said the recent crop of new hires is integrating well, and while there may be a few more retirements on the horizon, he believes the worst of it is over.

“I don’t see any mass exodus here,” he said.

His immediate priorities as chief will be a continued crackdown on drugs and expanding the department’s educational initiatives in the city’s schools, he said.

“I think he’s going to do a fabulous job,” city Administrator Sue Trout said, adding that Zucco’s “experience and his leadership quality” made him the right man for the position.

Bell said the choice between Zucco and Lt. Robert D. Stafford, a 28-year veteran of the police force and the only other candidate for the job, was a difficult one.

“It was a really, really hard decision. Both of them had the qualifications, both of them interviewed really well,” he said.

Zucco’s rank gave him experience with administrative tasks Stafford lacked, which helped tip the scale in his favor, Bell said.

Stafford, 52, said he plans to apply for the position of captain to replace Zucco.

The search for a captain will begin right away. The city will likely promote an officer from within the department next month, Trout said.

Bell said he’s talked with Zucco about the need for a strong anti-drug presence.

“I think Chad has a good plan moving forward,” he said. “We just need to take back the neighborhoods. We can’t have drugs and guns and things like that taking over our neighborhoods.”

Police departments nationwide have faced heightened scrutiny and criticism recently, Zucco said. Although Greensburg’s force has kept in the community’s good graces, he said he is keenly aware of the shifting national perception of police, and will work to keep his department above reproach.

“It’s a rough time for police right now, so I think that will be our biggest challenge, keeping our relationship with the community and doing the right thing,” he said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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