Ambridge Borough hired John DeLuca as interim police chief Thursday night after a process that the borough mayor and some members of council said lacked transparency and integrity.
DeLuca, who currently serves as Beaver Falls’ chief, was the only candidate considered to replace Mark Romutis, who died on April 12 from complications of COVID-19. Romutis had served as interim chief since August 2018, after a vote to place Chief James Mann on indefinite unpaid suspension until a resolution of criminal charges filed against Mann by the Pennsylvania State Police. Mann is still awaiting trial.
The position of interim chief was not advertised, the council had not publicly discussed initiating a search, and council members Jerome Gill and Tina Tessaro said they were unaware the borough had even begun looking for a replacement. Mayor David Drewnowski also said he was unaware the borough had been looking for someone to replace Romutis and did not feel the time was right to hire anyone.
Thursday’s meeting began with borough solicitor Richard Start reading a statement on behalf of members Michael Mikulich, Tina Iorfido Miller, Tony Cafarelli, Bob Dunn, and M.J. Flannery, the five council people who were actively involved in bringing in DeLuca.
Start said he called each of the five members individually in preparing the statement, to avoid any violations of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act. It is unclear why he did not call Gill and Tessaro for input.
Start insisted the process had been as transparent as the law requires.
“There were no backroom or secret meetings, rather this was, or is, the need to take action,” Start insisted.