Kiski Township cops cite ‘hostile work environment’ in resignation letters

Kiski Township police officers cited what they called a “hostile work environment” in their resignation letters to the township.

Four of the township’s seven officers resigned Thursday or early Friday, as did the township’s police secretary. The resignations came after the department’s former officer-in-charge filed a grievance with both the township and the United Steelworkers, the union representing Kiski Township’s officers, claiming harassment by township supervisors.

Jason Loose, a part-time officer, submitted his resignation early Friday morning.

“Unfortunately, circumstances lead me to seek employment elsewhere due to the hostile work environment and the other issues going on within the township,” Loose wrote in his letter. “It is not fair to me or the other officers.”

Loose said he worked as a part-time officer for the township for three years, typically working 40 to 50 hours a week. “Supervisors told me they would make me a full-time officer and never did.”

Darlene Veselicky of East Vandergrift, a part-time police secretary for Kiski Township, said she resigned on Thursday at 11 am

She believes she was the first to walk off the job.

“I resigned because of the disrespect, animosity and discrimination from some of the supervisors toward some of the township employees,” she said in a telephone interview Friday. “I choose not to work there anymore.”

Veselicky worked for the now defunct Rainbow Control in Vandergrift, which dispatched fire, police and ambulance emergency calls in parts of Armstrong and Westmoreland counties. She also previously worked for Armstrong County 911 and Murrysville police.

“I have been in the business for 33 years working with various police departments and I have never seen anything like this,” she said.

Alex Cherevka, a part-time officer, submitted his letter of resignation early Friday.

In his letter, he cites problems in dealing with Supervisor Mike Bash as the reason for this resignation.

Bash has not responded to phone calls requesting comment. Contacted Thursday, township Solicitor Tim Miller said the township would not comment on the issues raised in the grievance.

“I do not deserve the hostility from any township supervisors for doing the right thing,” Cherevka said. “I do not deserve to be subject to workplace hostility because I chose to do what is lawful and, not to mention, ethical.”

Cherevka added, “I have received more respect from people who have assaulted me on the job than I ever felt from Mike Bash and other supervisors.”

Previously, Kiski Township police Sgt. Thomas Dessell sent complaints about supervisors’ behavior to his union, the United Steelworkers, state police, the Armstrong County District Attorney’s office and the state Attorney General’s office.

Dessell has been concerned about alleged illegalities and ethics violations involving a township supervisor asking him to find a reason to arrest a township resident and supervisors ‘access to police surveillance videos in the department and supervisors’ access to the police station.

In his letter of resignation, Dessell cited an issue with his work schedule and absence on Thursday for an active shooter training class.

Dessell said he was directed by new police chief Lee Bartolicius to attend an “investigative meeting” meeting on Friday at the township building.

“I was advised I was not permitted to have my attorney present. What investigation meeting is needed? This is a black and white non-issue but an act of harassment by the Board of Supervisors. ”

Dessell, who was the sergeant and officer in charge of the police department, said he was not notified of the hiring of the new chief until Thursday.

Supervisors hired Bartolicius at their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday.

Working for three and a half years as a township police officer, Dessell said in his letter that it was an honor and privilege to serve residents in Kiski and North Apollo.

The police department expanded and moved in a positive direction, “making a real impact in the community,” he said.

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

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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