While nobody questions the resume Richard Dwyer built during a 36-year law enforcement career, many Dormont residents are questioning his latest title.
Council recently hired him as the interim administrative acting police chief. He replaces former chief Phil Ross, who was demoted to patrolman. He is earning $5550 per month with no health benefits.
Dwyer is a retired Wilkinsburg police chief, former Pittsburgh lieutenant and also served as a part-time officer in Edgewood. He is also a graduate of the FBI Academy and taught at the Allegheny County Police Academy. Additionally, he holds a degree in chemistry and biology from Duquesne University.
But because his Act 120 clearances, which grant police officers law enforcement capabilities, have expired, his role in Dormont will be an administrative one.
He cannot do shift work or make arrests, according to borough Manager Gino Rizza. Dwyer was hired for “his administrative ability and leadership ability,” Rizza said.
Because he’s not in a uniformed position, Mayor Tom Lloyd refused to swear him in Tuesday night, and residents have suggested he needs a different title, comparing the new departmental setup to that of Cranberry.
Cranberry has a public safety director, who serves in an administrative role, reports to the township manager and serves as a liaison to the volunteer fire company and EMS agencies. Lieutenant is the highest rank in the 28-officer Cranberry Police Department.
“It works very well for us,” said Jerry Andree, Cranberry township manager.
Public safety directors earn between $72,000 and $104,000 a year, Andree said, which is comparable to police chiefs.
“It’s not about money. It’s about managing resources and relationships,” he said.
Andree said there are strong relationships among first responders in the township.
“It’s easier to have relationships when a non-uniformed director is at the helm. There are no turf issues, and nobody is favored,” he said.