Majority of Kiski Township police officers quit jobs overnight

KISKIMINETAS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Kiski Township is one of the biggest townships in the state, covering 42 square miles, but overnight the majority of its police force walked off the job.

Those officers blamed their elected leaders as the reason for their resignations.

“Taxpayers out here are paying for police protection and is there any? No,” an officer, who requested anonymity, said.

Dan Marangoni lives right by the Kiski Township police station and found out that almost the entire force was dismantled overnight Friday.

“I sort of question that. Why did everybody leave? They have to answer a lot of questions, both sides,” Marangoni said.

Four officers and the police secretary handed in resignation letters.

The move left one officer and a newly hired police chief, approved by the council just 36 hours ago.

Those officers blamed a hostile work environment, as well as threats and harassment by township supervisors, as their reason for leaving.

A former officer in charge, Sgt. Tom Dessell, wrote in his resignation letter:

“The good officers have come through the department and left because of the games and gimmicks the Board of Supervisors have continued to play. They have fostered and promoted a hostile work environment, filled with constant harassment.”

Another officer said:

“If I stayed, I do believe I would continuously be faced with ethical dilemmas put onto me from the township. Clearly my values and the townships values differ, and for that reason I am leaving immediately.”

Residents of Kiski Township like Michael and Cathy Seniow said they hope public safety is not sacrificed now that state police in Kittanning will be handling calls.

The barracks are stationed more than 20 miles away from the township police station.

“I hope they get back; they can get things resolved and come back to work and everybody will safe and happy again,” Cathy Seniow said.

The township solicitor calls this an unprecedented situation but said he and the supervisors could not comment on the claims or any ongoing litigation.

He said it will take time to rebuild the police department.

“There are still legal requirements to do that and they have to hire these individuals in public hearings and follow the protocols outlined by the various statutes,” solicitor Tim Miller said.

There is no timetable as to how long it could take the township to fully staff the department again.

Channel 11 tried reaching out to the new police chief but did not hear back.

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