Pa. police department disbands months after chief’s death
Brackenridge Police Chief Justin McIntire died after he was gunned down by a suspect in January; his passing was one of the factors for the PD to join Tarentum
By Michael DiVittorio
The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
BRACKENRIDGE, Pa. — The Brackenridge Police Department will be no more as of Tuesday, when Tarentum formally takes over police coverage of the neighboring borough.
Both borough councils unanimously voted Friday evening to approve intergovernmental agreements for public safety.
The three Brackenridge officers will join the Tarentum Police Department at their current salaries and benefits.
Brackenridge will pay Tarentum $426,622 a year for the service. Its police vehicles will be rebranded with the Tarentum name.
Tarentum will have 13 officers, all full time, starting next month.
Saying goodbye and hello
Friday evening was filled with mixed emotions as Brackenridge officials and residents fought back tears of sorrow and joy.
“I think that throughout the history, there has been a quality of character in Brackenridge policing that was unique to Brackenridge that Justin (McIntire) was really proud of,” Mayor Lindsay Fraser said. “I want to thank the Brackenridge police officers that are here for the service that they have given to our community throughout their careers, but especially since January.”
Brackenridge Police Chief Justin McIntire, 46, was killed in the line of duty along Third Avenue, not far from his home, on Jan. 2. He had served the borough for 22 years. His passing was one of the factors that sped up the process of joining Tarentum.
“We have, as a community, really impressed people at a county, regional and state level for the efficiency and professionalism that we have executed this deal with,” Fraser said. “It has brought us back to 24/7 municipal policing with our guys able to retain their salaries and their pensions.
“It has happened months and months and months faster than anybody at a regional or state level could have even predicted under the best of circumstances. ... I think this has been inevitable. It’s for the best.”
Brackenridge Council President Timothy Connelly said residents will still see their familiar protectors, just in a different uniform.
“These guys are good and they’re local,” he said. “Everybody that lives here knows all of them. Not that they’re leaving. They’re still around.”
Sgt. Mike Duffy was promoted to officer-in-charge following McIntire’s passing. He said he was offered a sergeant position with Tarentum but turned it down to be a patrolman.
“This will allow me to have greater flexibility in my schedule for my family’s needs,” Duffy said.
Duffy said he looks forward to the next chapter of his career and continuing to serve the borough in a new capacity. State police had been assisting with covering Brackenridge.
Brackenridge Council had a quick meeting with a short agenda Friday evening compared to its Tarentum neighbors.
Tarentum officials welcomed their new officers, as well as Brackenridge’s leaders, with a round of applause before they all gathered for photos and signing the appropriate documents in Tarentum Council chambers.
“I’m excited to bring the three Brackenridge officers to Tarentum,” said Tarentum Council President Scott Dadowski. “It’s a good thing for both boroughs. Our guys know Brackenridge. They’ve always done mutual support.
“The Brackenridge officers are familiar with Tarentum through mutual support. I think the learning curve will be very minimal. They all know each other.”
Dadowski also recognized how McIntire’s tragic passing impacted both communities, and how the agreements were a formal way of solidifying a pact of public safety.
“It’s an emotional time,” he said. “It’s one piece of silver lining of a horrible tragedy that happened. Both boroughs are coming together. I do believe both municipalities will benefit from the added coverage.
“There’s always been talks through the years of how we can make (our coverage) better, but honestly everything was really put into motion after that tragedy.”
Tarentum Police Chief William Vakulick and Duffy shook hands after the documents were signed, as did the respective mayors and council presidents.
Mayor Fraser thanked Tarentum officials for their support.
“It has made a really hard time a lot less hard,” she said.
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