PITTSTON TOWNSHIP — A police chief in one township in Luzerne County was suddenly fired Friday morning.
Robert Avvisato confirmed he was terminated at a special meeting with the Pittston Township Supervisors and no reason was given.
However, this came as Avvisato said he was about to enter into arbitration with the supervisors over complaints they’ve made against him.
“This is politics, this is just a show of what politics are,” Avvisato said.
Avvisato said he’s still reeling after his abrupt firing as police chief in Pittston Township, however he said it’s not exactly a total surprise.
Avvisato said he was fired at a brief special meeting with the three township supervisors by a vote of two to one.
“When they got into the meeting, it wasn’t long. They got up there. They said, ‘The supervisors have decided to terminate Chief Avvisato and do I have a motion for his termination,’” said Avvisato.
Avvisato said he and his attorney had been set to go into arbitration with the supervisors over complaints they filed against him, alleging he created a hostile environment inside his department.
Avvisato, who served with the state police for two decades, denied that, saying he’s tried to have certain police officers disciplined for insubordination only to have the supervisors side with those officers.
“So there was no discipline. These officers were allowed to do what they wanted to do and they didn’t have to worry about repercussions,” said Avvisato.
Pittston Township resident Ed Holleran was at the meeting and demanded answers when the chief was let go.
“I said, ‘What grounds do you have to fire him?’ and the attorney spoke up and he said, ‘I advised them not to speak about it,’” said Holleran.
Newswatch 16 spoke to one of the supervisors, Steven Rinaldi, who is also the former police chief in the township.
He declined to comment on Avvisato’s firing.
As for the chief’s supporters, they are outraged.
“Some of the rank and file officers have complained about him because they didn’t like what he was doing, but you know what?” said Holleran. “The man had 25 years on the Pennsylvania State Police and attained the rank of corporal.”
At the Pittston Diner, workers said he’s not only a good chief but a loyal customer.
“We see him four or five times a week. Matter of fact he was in this morning. It was different seeing him in civilian clothes. We didn’t know anything had happened to him,” said manager Syd Bauman. “The ins and outs of a small town. We’ve never heard anybody grumble, no complaints, nothing about him and as far as we know he’s doing his job and he’s good guy.”
Avvisato’s attorney said his client was denied due process by this firing.
He is calling for an immediate hearing with the arbitrator next week.