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McCandless appoints lieutenant to serve as acting police chief

Tony LaRussa
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McCandless council on Monday appointed a lieutenant to lead the police department until Chief David DiSanti agrees to a corrective action plan being developed to address accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

Council appointed Lt. Ryan Hawk to serve as acting police chief.

The agenda for council’s Jan. 28 meeting indicated that they planned to take action to fill the post on an interim basis with Lt. Don O’Connor, who has been in charge of the police department since DiSanti was placed on paid administrative.

DiSanti was placed on leave Oct. 29 after a female officer accused him of treating her unfairly because of her gender and making unwanted sexual advances.

Hawk, who was promoted by DiSanti from sergeant to lieutenant in August, was named acting chief after O’Connor indicated that he will retire from the department by the end of the month.

Hawk will be paid $119,000 as acting chief.

Last week council changed DiSanti’s status to suspended without pay until a corrective action plan can be developed to address the accusations made against him.

After DiSanti was placed on leave, town officials received accusations of inappropriate behavior by him from two other women who have ties to the police department but are not employees, according to a member of council.

The chief will be allowed to return to duty and resume collecting his $119,000 annual salary after agreeing to the corrective action plan, which is still being developed, according to town officials.

DiSanti’s lawyer said the chief will follow the requirements of the corrective action plan and is looking forward to returning to work.

The accusations lodged against DiSanti prompted the police union to take a “no confidence” vote in December in which all but two of department’s 26 officers questioned his ability to continue leading the force.

In addition to DiSanti, council placed Lt. Jeffrey Basl on administrative leave in October after the same female officer accused him of creating an uncomfortable work environment by openly making homophobic jokes at the expense of other officers, using vulgar expressions and gestures to describe sex acts and engaging in other improper behavior.

Basl was allowed to return to work after serving a 10-day unpaid suspension.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or [email protected] or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.