The Pittston Township Board of Supervisors fired police Chief Robert Avvisato without offering explanation or naming a replacement Friday.
Vice Chairwoman Barbara Attardo and Treasurer Steven Rinaldi, the former chief, voted to fire Avvisato, while Chairman Joseph Adams opposed the move at a brief special meeting Friday morning.
Avvisato, a retired state police corporal, is accused of creating a hostile work environment since he took command in January 2013. He is set to go to arbitration with the township over the matter and denies the allegations.
The decision is effective immediately. However, if there is no wrongdoing found, Avvisato could be reinstated, according to his attorney, Scott E. Schermerhorn.
Avvisato maintains there weren’t many rules in place when he took over a year and a half ago and when he began to enforce regulations, the officers didn’t like it.
Avvisato is a 25-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police. He left his position as corporal and was appointed the township’s chief at a salary of $40,000 and overseeing about 11 full- and part-time officers 19 months ago.
Immediately after the supervisors made their decision Friday morning, Pittston Township Constable Ed Holleran demanded an explanation from the supervisors.
“All they did was fire him, and they didn’t give him a reason or anything else,” Holleran said following the meeting. “They (legal counsel) told him not to speak about it.”
Holleran, who has regular contact with the department, said he has never seen Avvisato act unprofessional.
“He was an excellent police chief,” Holleran said. “Some of the officers didn’t like him because he made them abide by his orders. But he was the chief and he was doing things by the numbers.”
Photo of Avvisato appears courtesy of WNEP.