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.”