Residents want input in naming new Farrell police chief

Residents in Farrell, Pa. want to be part of the selection process for a new police chief.

FARRELL, Pa. (WKBN) – After the firing of Farrell’s police chief over racial slurs he admitted to making in an email, residents are now keeping tabs on who will make the decision on Thomas Burke’s replacement.

Prayer started a peaceful rally Monday as residents gathered outside the Farrell Municipal Complex in protest to Burke’s comments made months ago. Burke resigned, but residents say that’s the not the end of it. They want to be part of the decision-making process for Burke’s replacement.

“We are going to stand up for equality, and we want to be a part of that system,” said Pastor Tiffany Holden, Redeemed Sanctuary.

The idea was put before City Manager Michael Ceci who welcomed the input.

“That’s something they have every right, and I think every community has the right to do that,” Ceci said.

farrell-chief-controversyCeci said he takes full responsibility for not finding out about the email before hiring Burke. He said part of his conversation with residents Monday included ways they can be more involved.

Under the city’s home charter rule, the city manager’s office hires a police chief. Community members can change that if there’s a mechanism in the charter, they get enough signatures to get it on the ballot, and define the hiring process.

“We, the citizens of this city, can now have a voice. But we have to put our feet to work in order to get that voice,” Holden said.

Ceci said the city will have a police department beginning Jan. 1. They could name an interim chief and re-open the search.

The city of Farrell decided in September to break off from the Southwest Mercer Regional Police District and form its own police department. Burke was going to start the job Jan. 1.

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