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Avalon officials showed their appreciation this week for two police officers injured during the pursuit of a suspected drug dealer earlier this year. Working in plainclothes along with Police Chief Tom Kokoski, Officers Sean Khirley and Walt Johnson pursued the fleeing suspect through a 20-foot jump and over a fence, finally nabbing him and recovering a quantity of suspected heroin. Both officers and the suspect were hospitalized after the chase. While Khirley has returned to duty, Johnson remains off-duty with a leg injury.


What happens when two police chiefs run into each other on vacation? They go do police stuff, of course. That happened just last week when Ohio Township Police Chief Beaver Micklos (pictured above at left) and Avalon Police Chief Tom Kokoski (right) ran into each other on the Caribbean island of Aruba. They were invited to accompany Aruban police detectives on helicopter surveillance of the island as police searched the surrounding ocean for any sign of drug traffickers bringing in narcotics from South America.


There are any number of serious subjects in the news this week, and I certainly could blog about any of them in some detail.

But it's Pet Photo Contest Week in The Citizen, so let's deal with those pesky serious issues and get on to the fun stuff.


Students and staff at Avalon Elementary School were evacuated Friday morning, Feb. 22, after someone called 9-1-1 and reported a bomb was in the school and would go off in an hour.

Avalon Police Chief Tom Kokoski said that there was no bomb, and the matter is being investigated.

Children were taken to the nearby Avalon borough building, and then sent home.


Avalon Police say that a man apprehended in Bellevue on Wednesday has confessed to four residential burglaries in Avalon.


Parents who pick up or drop off their children at Avalon Elementary School will no longer be able to park in front of the building or on North School Street.

Avalon Police Chief Tom Kokoski told council members Tuesday that the congestion caused by the parking had been a concern for some time, but the problem became a priority after last week’s shootings at a Connecticut grade school.

The number of vehicles parked or double-parked outside the building could prevent first responders from reaching the school in a timely manner, Kokoski said.


When a bad storm last spring wiped out the shooting range used to train area police officers, there was more than a little concern.

“We rely on this,” said Avalon Police Chief Tom Kokoski, who explained that the range buried deep in the woods of Sewickley has, for many years, provided officers from 13 different suburban police departments the opportunity to train for annual weapons certifications.

The heavy rains in the former reservoir caused landslides and flooding, destroyed the frames used to hold targets, and swept away a storage building.


Avalon Borough is banking -- literally -- on the success of a federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) program that employs municipal police officers in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds from property seized during drug busts.

The borough council voted 4-3 Tuesday to detail Avalon Police Officer Sean Khirley to the DEA as of Aug. 1. Although working for the federal law enforcement agency, Khirley will remain on the borough payroll, and plans call for another full-time officer to be hired to replace him in Avalon.






Over the past months there has been a great deal of activity on the streets of Avalon Borough and while these activities are considered undesirable by most members of the community they are the focus of the Avalon Police Department.

These activities are mostly drug-related and there has been a great deal of news reported around it in The Citizen. Thankfully the news on the street is spreading quickly that the Avalon Police Department will not put up with drug-related activities on our streets or in the homes of those that have decided to take up residence here.


Two Avalon police officers were injured in a drug bust on Jan. 28 that ended with them in the hospital, along with the suspect they arrested.

Officers Walt Johnson and Sean Kirley, along with Chief Tom Kokoski, attempted to arrest Raymond Carter, 25, of Grant Avenue, Bellevue, after observing him in what was believed to be a drug transaction in the California Avenue business district.


The Avalon Police Department has been awarded two grants that will go to purchase computers and bullet-proof vests.

Chief Tom Kokoski and Avalon Council safety committee chairman Patrick Narcisi announced the grants at Tuesday’s council meeting.


Two part-time Avalon police officers are now working full-time for the borough, hired Tuesday to fill vacancies in the department.

Avalon Council voted unanimously to hire Walt Johnson and Sean Kirley to fill the recently-created vacancies. One job opening came when Tom Kokoski was promoted from officer to chief, and the other with the retirement of long-time officer Paul Lawry.

Johnson has nine years of experience as a police officer, and has worked part-time for Avalon for the last four years. He also has worked part-time for the Stowe and West View police departments.


An ordinance under consideration by Avalon Council could give police the power to fine the owner of any property where officers are called more than twice in a 30-day period.

Property owners would be charged $100 per call in excess of the limit. Property owners who fail to pay the fine within 10 days of receiving an invoice from the police department could be charged with a summary criminal offense and fined an additional $25 to $100.

The ordinance would apply to the owners of any property in the borough -- residential, commercial or vacant lot.


Arthur did not take off with State Police Trooper James Pecori and Avalon Police Chief Tom Kokoski because, quite frankly, he did not fit in the helicopter.


Tom Kokoski has been a police officer for 12 years, but barely a month on the job as chief of the Avalon Police Department and he’s finding himself going in new directions.

Like straight up.


Avalon Police Chief Tom Kokoski prepares to take off in the state police helicopter used Monday in a multi-jurisdictional narcotics surveillance task.


State Trooper James Pecori and Avalon Police Chief Tom Kokoski take off on their mission.


A drug bust ended badly in Avalon last Thursday night, with a suspect attempting to run over a police officer and the officer shooting at the vehicle.

Avalon police Chief Tom Kokoski said that officers Walt Johnson and Matt McDanel were working in plainclothes, observing a drug deal occurring in Peach Alley. When the officers approached the car, Kokoski said, identifying themselves as police officers, the driver took off, headed right for Johnson. The chief said that Johnson fired three shots in self defense but did not hit the vehicle.


Avalon Police Chief Robert Howie, left, welcomes his successor, new chief Tom Kokoski, after Kokoski was sworn in by Mayor David Haslett at Wednesday’s Avalon Council meeting. Howie will retire May 25 after 17 years as chief, and a total of 23 years with the Avalon Police Department. Kokoski, who has been a police officer for 12 years and employed with Avalon for the past eight, was hired last month by Avalon Council. Council voted Wednesday to approve a 3.5 year contract with Kokoski, though Dec. 31, 2013.


Avalon Police Officer Tom Kokoski has been hired as the borough's new police chief.

A search for a replacement for current Chief Robert Howie -- who will retire later this month after a dozen years in the position -- took months and involved a great deal of debate and conversation, according to council safety committee chairman Patrick Narcisi.

"It was a very difficult decision," Narcisi said at a special council meeting held Tuesday to hire a new chief.


An effort to cut costs by changing health care insurance providers failed Wednesday when the matter came to a tie vote by Avalon Council.

Council finance committee chairman Tom Michalow said that the borough would save about $2,500 per month -- or some $20,000 to $30,000 per year -- by changing to the UPMC health insurance plan.

The proposal was unpopular with some employees as well as some officials who attended the May 20 council meeting.