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Whitaker police to remain under search warrant procedure

Written by Molly Born on .

A jury on Tuesday acquitted suspended Whitaker police Officer William Davis on charges of attempted extortion, official oppression and related crimes in two separate incidents.

It made me wonder if the August 2013 rule requiring the department to get search warrant applications pre-approved by the Allegheny County district attorney's office would remain in effect.

At the time, DA Stephen A. Zappala cited four concerns that prompted that change: the accusations against Officer Davis; the position borough police Chief John Vargo had taken in the media about the case; the "horrendous" manner in which evidence was being handled in the department; and the number of arrests that did not move beyond a preliminary hearing.

DA's office spokesman Mike Manko on Wednesday said the requirement will stay in effect. He did not immediately say for how long, and Mr. Zappala did not give a time frame in the announcement Aug. 19, 2013.

Chief Vargo said Wednesday that his officers have sought only one or two search warrants since then.

It was not immediately clear if Officer Davis, 37, would return to the force. Asked that Tuesday after the trial, he said he had no comment. Chief Vargo on Wednesday also said he had no comment and that the decision would be "in the council's hands right now."

Borough council Vice President David Funk said he, too, had no comment on the matter. The borough council president and solicitor did not immediately return a message, but I'll update if/when they do.

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