Monroeville Residents Rail against Demotion of Police Chief

Article excerpt

Four Monroeville Council members got an earful Thursday night as about 150 people packed council chambers in support of former police Chief K. Douglas Cole.

"I'm disgusted, and I'm outraged," resident Sandy Kephart told council. "I have never heard a disparaging word against Cole."

Cole was demoted to sergeant on Feb. 1 by interim manager Lynette McKinney, who received a raise as part of the promotion.

The move occurred two days after municipal manager Jeff Silka resigned, claiming that four council members - Diane Allison, Lois Drumheller, Bernhard Erb and Clarence Ramsey - gave him an ultimatum; either remove Cole, or they would remove him.

Allison said that both moves were in response to an investigation involving former Monroeville emergency responders receiving patients' medical information from the dispatch center.

Monroeville solicitor Bruce Dice has said there was no violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects patients' privacy.

Cole said recently that he acted properly as a police chief. A federal investigation remains open.

Mayor Greg Erosenko said Allison wanted to remove Cole as chief so that Assistant Chief Steven Pascarella would take the position and her husband - a Monroeville patrolman - could be promoted to detective. Allison has denied the claim.

Residents said that demoting Cole "without cause" - as McKinney stated in a news release announcing the move - is unacceptable.

"This council has done nothing but brought embarrassment to our municipality," resident Tom Kane said. …