Original Article: http://www.examiner.com/x-16576-Pittsburgh-Law-Enforcement-Examiner~y2009m8d25-Agency-Profile-Vandergrift-Police-Department
August 25, 8:20 AMPittsburgh Law Enforcement ExaminerDennis Marsili
This is the first installment of a new series of articles highlighting different law enforcement organizations from around the western Pennsylvania area. Today’s agency is the Vandergrift Police Department located in the northwestern part of Westmoreland County.
The following is from City-Data.com. Vandergrift is a borough in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, United States, approximately 40 miles (64 km) east of Pittsburgh. Early in the 20th century, it had the largest sheet steel mill in the world. In July, 1915, the borough of Vandergrift Heights was consolidated with Vandergrift. In 1900, 2,076 people lived here; in 1910, 3,876. The population of Vandergrift Heights was 3,438 in 1910, therefore, the consolidation in 1915 almost doubled the population of Vandergrift. In 1940, 10,725 people lived in Vandergrift. The population was 5,455 at the 2000 census.
The police department has 8 full time officers and 7 part-time. Organizational structure is as follows:
Chief: Joseph Caporali
Lt. Casimer Maszgay- Juvenile officers, sex crimes, and DUI task force liaison
Sgt Steven Callipare – Equipment, shift supervisor
Sgt Anthony DePanicis- Juvenile officer, vehicle maintenance
Patrol Officers- Service calls, traffic enforcement, responsible for follow-up investigations.
Chief Caporali is proud of the members of his department for their hard work and dedication to public service. His officers have devoted numerous hours of work with the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force enforcing narcotics laws in Vandergrift Boro and in surrounding communities. The Chief also mentioned that his officers volunteer for in school programs such as, reading to elementary students and conducting child safety programs.
The department also has a police dog, named “Co-Co” handled by Ptlm William Moore. “Co-Co” has been in service for 4 years. Moore said that one of “Co-Co’s” largest seizures involved discovering approximately 6 lbs of marijuana in a car trunk. Moore and “Co-Co” can make themselves available for call outs to other police departments on an as needed basis.
Chief Caporali said that the department’s most involved investigation took place in 1980 with the homicide of a local waitress by the name of Jackie Simpson. The victim’s body was never found but retired police chief and now mayor of Vandergrift, Lou Purificato and Pennsylvania State Trooper Kevin Graham solved the case in spite of these shortcomings. The defendant Gary Kunish was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and served 3 years in prison. This case was one of the few homicides successfully prosecuted in Pennsylvania without the benefit of having located the victim’s body. To this day the search for this victim continues with leads still being investigated, but Simpson has not been found. The defendant died from natural causes several years after being released from prison.