Dormont is saying goodbye to one police chief, but will welcome a familiar face to the position.
Dormont Council on Monday hired current Dormont police Sgt. Michael Bisignani to fill the position of chief, at a salary of $90,492.42.
The position is currently held by police Chief Phil Ross, who has served in the Dormont police department for 29 years and plans to retire on March 3. Bisignani will be sworn in as chief that day.
Bisignani said his experience serving as a Dormont police sergeant will be an advantage to him in his new position.
“Dormont is a unique town,” he said. “We’re considered a suburb, but our population makes us almost like a small city. And we share a border with the City of Pittsburgh. That brings a unique challenge to police work here, and that’s what I’ve enjoyed.”
Council President Bill McCartney said council discussed whether to hire from within the department or advertise the position outside of the community. Ultimately, he said, council decided to interview inside candidates first, and consider outside candidates next, if needed.
“We chose Sgt. Bisignani in what we think was a fair process, and we’re convinced he’s going to do a great job for us,” McCartney said.
Bisignani, 37, graduated from the Allegheny County Police Academy in 1998 and first served as a patrolman in Clairton. He was hired as a patrolman with the Dormont Police Department in 2001.
The Pleasant Hills native now lives in Peters Township, but said he spends more time in Dormont than he does at home.
“I’ve gotten to know the people here and the people have been great,” Bisignani said. “They’ve really accepted me and welcomed me here. I enjoy it here.”
Bisignani plans to be a working chief. He’ll be switching to the day shift—he’s worked a night shift for much of his career in Dormont—and said he plans to continue police foot patrols through the borough.
He said he already contacted the principals in the Keystone Oaks School District, and hopes to organize more joint training with other local police departments, either through the school district or through South Hills Area Council Of Government.
“With recent mass shootings at schools, it’s a concern,” Bisignani said. “I’m hoping to be able to get more joint trainings. That’s definitely a priority. I know it’s a concern of the schools.”
Bisignani said two current police patrolman are being considered for his former position as sergeant, and McCartney said council will interview for those positions on Feb. 23. Council also plans to hire an additional patrolman.
Councilwoman Onnie Costanzo and Mayor Tom Lloyd thanked Ross for his service to the borough.
“I think the chief has done an outstanding job, first as patrolman, then as sergeant,” Lloyd said. “Obviously, when he became chief he had to sit here during some stressful times … we wish him well, and the best as he enters his retirement.”