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Burke Reinstated to Sergeant, Settlement Approved

Dormont police officer James Burke was reinstated to sergeant on Monday, and council approved a settlement agreement between him and the borough.

Dormont Council on Monday approved a settlement agreement between the borough and Dormont police Sgt. James Burke.

Burke, who was demoted to officer last year, also was reinstated to sergeant.

The audience cheered after council voted on each motion. Burke did not make a statement during the meeting, but spoke to Dormont-Brookline Patch afterward.

“I’m very grateful that my wife no longer has to go through what she has gone through for the past year and a half,” Burke said. “This just goes to show that if you do things right, eventually you’ll get through any dark time.”

The motions to approve the settlement and reinstate Burke to sergeant were passed by a 5-0 vote. Councilman Jeff Fabus abstained from the vote. Councilman John Maggio did not attend the meeting.

The settlement agreement brought an end to what Mayor Tom Lloyd called a “dark time” in the borough.

“That certainly doesn’t close the book on one of the saddest periods we’ve had here, but it does close a chapter of that book,” Lloyd said. “It’s just one more step out of the dark ages.”

The settlement agreement includes dismissal of the lawsuit filed against the borough, payment of costs by the borough’s insurance company, and reinstating Burke’s status as sergeant.

. The motion to demote him passed by a 5-2 vote at the July 2011 meeting. Council members Joan Hodson and Eugene Barilla voted against demoting Burke, while Maggio and former council members Kim Lusardi, Drew Lehman, Heather Schmidt and Laurie Malka voted in favor of it.

The actions stemmed from tension over a trespassing citation Burke had issued former borough manager Gino Rizza.

At the July 2011 council meeting, Lloyd called Burke’s demotion “unfair and unjust.” Minutes from this meeting are available on the Dormont Borough website.

Burke sued the borough in December 2011.

Borough solicitor John Rushford said the suit has been settled, and will not cost the borough, or its taxpayers any money. The borough’s insurance company is handling the costs, and no costs of the suit will be paid with taxpayer dollars.

He said the reality of any federal lawsuit is that it could be enormously costly, and that for Dormont, this is a best-case scenario resolution.

Hodson said she thinks council’s decision to approve the settlement rights a wrong.

“I’m relieved for him and his family, because this never should have happened in the first place,” she said.

Burke said he wanted to thank the mayor, as well as council, for their support during the past year.

“There’s an old cop’s saying that everybody counts, or nobody counts,” he said. “No matter who it is. That’s a lesson for all police, and young officers, to live by. I’m reminded of it.”

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DSA November 08, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Great result for everyone. No taxpayer money is used and a good officer who has learned limits will approach the job humbly in order to protect and serve.
MSgt. John DeLallo November 08, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Jim Burke is a fine officer, and a good husband. I have previously posted my views on his demotion, and they are a matter of record. Tom Lloyd is correct; while Dormont has not completely recovered from the dark days, this sordid chapter had to be closed. Its truly a shame that it took this long for reconciliation and cooler heads to prevail, but, in the end the just, proper, and appropriate actions were finally taken. And so, Sergeant Burke, I salute you. Veteran, husband, father, member of the Emerald Society, and long time Dormont police professional. "May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back, and the sun shine gently on your face. May the rains fall softly on your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hands." Your kind and gentle advice to my son has always been, for me, the true measure of your service to your community.
Dormont taxpayer November 08, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Who pays the boroughs insurance? The taxpayers? Hmmm!
Dormont taxpayer November 08, 2012 at 11:28 PM
DSA, learned limits? You surely must mean Sgt. Burke did his job. You should rephrase your comment to read...hopefully others will follow the rules and that no one is above the law. Congratulations to and thank you Sgt. Burke.
T&B T November 09, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Congratulations Sgt James Burke!! You are a fine officer and a credit to our lovely boro!!
T&B T November 09, 2012 at 11:04 PM
While we all sleep safe & sound in our nice soft Dormont beds; officers like James Burke risk their lives for us. Sometimes the most mundane call a police officer responds to can potentially result in terrible violence directed unexpectedly towards the police officer. I remember when I was a kid (about 40 years ago) there was always 2 police officers in every police car & this makes EVEN more sense today when we release criminals from prison like there's no tomorrow. I think in the evening hours 2 police officers should be assigned to every Dormont police car. Just makes sense!
Jason D Flaherty November 10, 2012 at 01:31 AM
I spent many nights in the old and new cells plus the old and new county cells only because this man was doing his job. I can tell you when I decided to leave Pittsburgh to grow up I always knew I would move back to Dormont when the time was right . I can tell you this borough has no clue what this police force puts up with to keep it safe. So what if a few heads get cracked that's the way it use to be. I'm glad that after years of living on the other side of the state "York Pa" I could come home (Dormont) to where I know I am protected by a police force who does there job. I'm sure whatever he got from the borough isn't enough to cover the insult our council placed on him.
John Q Public November 10, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I hate to be that guy having just moved here to Dormont, but if you are going to report on a story, why not state the reason for his demotion? Of course, I can look it up on the internet but it's just basic reporting 101.
Erin Faulk November 10, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Hi John, Thanks for commenting. The reason for his demotion is stated in this story: "The actions stemmed from tension over a trespassing citation Burke had issued former borough manager Gino Rizza." For more detail, click the blue links in this article. Those links lead to the original stories on this issue. Thanks!
Erin Faulk November 10, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Also, since you're up on basic reporting skills, perhaps you'd be interested in blogging for Patch? We are always looking for residents and local people who might want to contribute their thoughts and opinions to our "Local Voices" section. It would be cool to have the perspective of a new Dormont resident in a blog. If you're interested, you can email me at erin.faulk@patch.com. Thanks!

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