Embattled police chief resigns
[Jonestown, Pa]

Tom Gibb, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
March 20, 2001, Tuesday, Sooner Edition
Copyright 2001 P.G. Publishing Co.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 20, 2001, Tuesday, Sooner Edition

(JONESTOWN, Penn.) -- One member of his police force is under federal investigation for brutality. The Justice Department is mulling whether to look harder at charges of racial profiling by his officers. A consultant reported last year that his department had a history of "infighting, backbiting, envy, jealousy, anger and fear."

Yesterday, when he hit the deadline from City Manager Karl Kilduff to resign or be fired, Johnstown Police Chief Robert Huntley opted to quit, tendering a verbal resignation at mid-afternoon after eight years as chief.

"The chief cited concerns over his family and negative effects of the local climate in his desire to seek employment elsewhere," Kilduff said in a statement released by his office late yesterday afternoon.

Huntley, 48, a police officer for a quarter-century and a Johnstown officer for 12 years, could not be reached for comment. The negative climate to which he referred was an allusion to his treatment in local media, which led him to threaten to WJAC-TV last week that he would sue the local newspaper, The Tribune-Democrat.

Police Capt. Craig Foust was named acting chief of the 49-person force while Johnstown, a city of 23,906, hunts a replacement, Kilduff said.

"We had a good police department while [Huntley] was chief, and we still have a good police department," Councilman Anthony Pinizzotto, a self-described "big fan" of Huntley's, said last night.

Huntley didn't win plaudits across the board. Last year, consultants at the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington, D.C., group composed largely of former police brass, said he was "similar to ... a chief executive who feels embattled and comes to rely on a relatively small group of people who demonstrate personal loyalty."

By last week, Kilduff said he had decided on Huntley's future but refused to reveal his decision, saying "that depends on what options [Huntley] takes."

Three weeks ago, it was clear that a gulf separated Huntley from Kilduff and Mayor Donato Zucco.

A black executive visiting from suburban Washington, D.C., complained that twice within three hours in the afternoon of Feb. 1, city officers stopped him along Johnstown streets, never offering cause, once searching his vehicle without a warrant.

Kilduff and Zucco said that because none of his officers acknowledged the stops, Huntley scoffed at the claims. But Kilduff and Zucco said that they gave the allegations credence.

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