Former chief returns to lead Monroeville Police Department

by: Kyle Lawson, TribLIVE Updated:

MONROEVILLE,Pa. - Former Chief Doug Cole is back in charge of the Monroeville Police Department.

A standing ovation by about 70 people erupted on Tuesday night when Monroeville Council voted 7-0 to bring Cole back as chief.

Cole was demoted in February and subsequently fired by then-Manager Lynette McKinney. Four newly elected council members and three incumbents have argued for months that Cole was unjustly removed from the position.

“The smartest thing we could do is bring Doug Cole back,” Councilman Jim Johns said. “He should've never been removed. They did him wrong.”

Cole, who was removed as chief amid a state audit by the Attorney General's Office and a complaint filed with the federal government, thanked his supporters.

“I want to take a moment to express my thanks and my deepest gratitude to everyone involved in allowing me this opportunity,” Cole said. “They knew the allegations were baseless.”

Cole, 54, oversees a department of about 50 police officers.

He said his priorities include reviews of the dispatch computer system and the officers who were hired in 2013, and the completion of a 2014 budget for the police department.

“The budget is No. 1 on the list,” Cole said.

A four-member council majority drove key personnel changes in 2013. The attorney general's audit found privacy violations involving the dispatch computer system while Cole was chief.

Those personnel changes now largely are undone as a result of a new group on council, effective this month.

Then-Assistant Chief Steve Pascarella ascended to the chief's job when Cole was demoted.

Pascarella had filed a complaint with Department of Health and Human Services in 2012, claiming that a possible privacy violation involving the dispatch center's paging system occurred while Cole was in charge. That investigation is ongoing.

Pascarella resigned as chief in November while on short-term disability and dropped in rank to lieutenant with McKinney's consent.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.