Archive

ShareThis Page
North Huntingdon appoints police chief | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

North Huntingdon appoints police chief

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, September 20, 2018 2:39 p.m.

For the first time in two years, North Huntingdon has a police chief — a 28-year veteran of the force who has been in charge of the department since June.

Township commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to promote Robert Rizzo from sergeant to chief, ending a nine-month search for someone to lead the department. Rizzo has been in charge since former Lt. Rod Mahinske retired at the end of May.

“We are in the process of restructuring the department,” Rizzo said.

His family and a large contingent of the 25-member police department attended the meeting.

Rizzo, who received a five-year contract, said he first plans to hire four officers to get the department back to 29 officers and work on the budget for 2019. The township also will promote officers to the ranks of lieutenant and sergeant, he said.

As chief, Rizzo will earn $118,750 a year, said Jeff Silka, township manager. The salary includes longevity pay that Rizzo has accrued through 28 years of service.

Commissioner Brian Blasko, who cast the lone vote in opposition to Rizzo’s appointment, said he was against the salary, and not the person.

”You’ve done fantastic job. You’ve grabbed the bull by the horns,” Blasko said.

The commissioners this year budgeted $103,000 for the chief position.

“We set the budget, and we have to adhere to that,” Blasko said.

Commissioners David Herold and Fran Bevan were absent, but Bevan stated in a letter read at the meeting that Rizzo has shown “superb leadership” since he took charge. Bevan wrote that she looked forward to him “making the police department whole again.”

Mahinske, along with Rizzo, were among the officers who applied for the job after the township launched its search in January.

Mahinske had taken over the department when commissioners voted 4-3 to fire Lisiecki in September 2016. Lisiecki had been the police chief in Green Tree when he was hired in May 2012.

Rizzo’s hiring came almost two weeks after it was announced that Lisieski had agreed to a $600,000 settlement of his federal lawsuit against the township over his firing. Lisiecki had that he was wrongfully terminated as part of a political dispute. His attorney, Timothy O’Brien, claimed it was one of the largest settlements ever paid to a law enforcement official in his situation in Western Pennsylvania.

Commissioner Zachary Haigis said it was a mere coincidence that Rizzo was hired shortly after the settlement was reached. Haigis, board president, said that while he was not in favor of the settlement, it was the decision of the township’s liability insurer. The township could have lost in court, Haigis said.

The police department is “100 percent better” than it previously had been, said Commissioner Anthony Martino, one of the commissioners who voted to fire Lisiecki.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.


251419SgtRobertRizzo
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.