Cheswick police chief to retire as part of lawsuit settlement
Cheswick police Chief Bob Scott will retire this month as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit he filed against the borough this year.
Councilman Michael Girardi confirmed Tuesday that Scott’s last day in the office would be Dec. 15 and his official last day as chief will be Dec. 31. He will use vacation time for the last half of the month. Girardi said the agreement was reached during a mediation session on Nov. 8.
Cheswick plans to hire an interim chief at a special meeting sometime in the next week so that person can work with Scott during the transition. That meeting date had not been set by Tuesday evening.
Council plans to meet on Dec. 19 to vote on its 2019 budget. It was not clear whether a move to hire an interim police chief could be handled at that meeting.
The borough received eight or nine applications for the part-time interim chief position and conducted interviews, Girardi said. He said the borough is hiring an interim chief because the borough is exploring a police merger with Springdale Township and officials don’t want to hire a full-time chief until those details have been decided.
In June, Scott sued the borough, alleging officials breached his contract, failed to pay him overtime and retaliated against him when he asked for compensation.
The 28-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in Pittsburgh, outlined years of alleged unpaid overtime, failed contract and budget negotiations with borough council and subsequent “embarrassment and humiliation” when council reduced Scott’s salary by 10 percent in 2016.
Scott’s salary was reduced from $73,700 to $66,590, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Scott is the only full-time officer in the department. He performs chief duties as well as patrolman duties. Cheswick spends about $300,000 a year to run its police department.
Scott originally was seeking full back pay and benefits, including pension contributions, attorney’s fees and associated costs, liquidated and compensatory damages and an additional payment to offset the adverse tax consequences of receiving the damages in a lump sum.
Those details of the agreement weren’t available Tuesday.
“The remaining details are still being hammered out by the attorneys,” Girardi said.
Girardi said Scott’s contract with the borough entitles him to some things, including cashing out sick time and a life insurance policy, but he didn’t want to speculate on specifics until the agreement is finalized.
Scott is represented by Christian Bagin of Pittsburgh-based law firm Wienand & Bagin. Messages left for him Tuesday were not returned.
Scott sent a letter to borough council, dated Feb. 13, advising officials he had hired Bagin. At that time, he expressed interest in reaching a resolution to contract negotiations, but was prepared to retire and seek a severance package if negotiations didn’t progress.
Scott’s employment is based on two agreements — an officers’ contract that expired at the end of 2012, and a chief’s agreement that has no expiration date. The officers’ contract, despite its expiration date, remains in effect because the chief’s agreement references it.
Messages left for Mayor Daniel Carroll, who oversees the police department, and council President Paul Jack were not returned.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter @emilybalser.