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Duquesne Takes Cautious Approach With Chief

Solicitor: City waiting for outcome of process, lieutenant handling day-to-day operations

By Matt Germaine
The Tube City Almanac
December 15, 2021
Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne’s police chief will retain his title for now.

Thomas W. Dunlevy, 49, has been charged by Allegheny County police with intimidation of witnesses, intimidation or realitiation in a child abuse case, obstructing the administration of law and official oppression.

Dunlevy was arraigned Dec. 7 and is currently free on $25,000 unsecured bond pending a preliminary hearing Dec. 20 before Magisterial District Judge Kim Berkeley Clark.

“These are all allegations. We have to see what’s going to be held for court, and then whether or not charges are going to be pursued by the district attorney’s office,” said Duquesne city solicitor Myron Sainovich in an interview. “If there’s not enough evidence in the preliminary hearing, the charges could be dismissed. We just have to wait and see.”

Duquesne police Lt. Karra Vance is currently overseeing day-to-day operations of the department, Sainovich said. Vance could not be reached for comment.

Despite Dunlevy’s arrest, Sainovich said that the regular operations of the city police department continue and have been “pretty much smooth sailing.”

“Duquesne residents can be assured that the high level of safety that they experience with the Duquesne police will continue,” said Sainovich. “We always have someone to step in to take charge if someone is unable to perform their duties.”

Mayor Nickole Nesby, who appointed Dunlevy in 2018, did not return messages from Tube City Almanac seeking comment, but in a statement issued to Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV, the mayor said, “During my tenure as mayor, I have tried to highlight and correct issues within the City of Duquesne’s Police Department. Some may say it cost me the election.

“When we promoted Chief Thomas Dunlevy, the community was open for change. After several complaints from the community, our Citizen Police Review Board, and the incident with Ms. Harper, I pushed for disciplinary action and termination. However, the council ignored my request (as they have several times during my term) and even censured me,” Nesby told the station.

“Much of what I have highlighted as mayor is documented. I have no further comment at this time,” Nesby said. “Additional comments and questions can be addressed by the incoming mayor, Richard Scott Adams.”

Nesby’s term ends Dec. 31. Adams, who served as Duquesne police chief before Dunlevy was hired, will be sworn into office as mayor in January; he defeated Nesby in the Democratic primary in May.

In a brief statement, Adams deferred comment. “At this time, we were advised that all questions concerning the situation be handled by our city solicitor,” he said.

The charges against Dunlevy stem from an incident involving Nathan Beck, 21, of West Mifflin, who is a former Duquesne volunteer firefighter and a friend of Dunlevy’s, according to Allegheny County police.

According to court records and earlier reporting, Beck was arrested on Aug. 16 by Bethel Park police following accusations of engaging in sexual activity with a then-15-year-old girl during an Aug. 8 incident.

The incident was reported by the victim’s father, a witness to the assault. Beck is currently free on $20,000 bond and will face several sexual assault-related charges in an upcoming trial.

Allegheny County police allege that Dunlevy confronted the victim’s father at his workplace in Hazelwood on Oct. 19 and threatened to release information during Beck’s trial “that would result in a negative contact with the county’s Office of Children, Youth & Families.”

Following a consultation with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was obtained for Dunlevy’s arrest on Dec. 8, and Dunlevy surrendered to county police.

“We always take the approach that you’re innocent until proven guilty, and [Dunlevy] has not even had a preliminary hearing yet,” said Sainovich. “What will happen is that the city will take one step at a time.”

Matthew Germaine is a software developer and freelance writer in Wilkinsburg. He has previously written for the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, AmeriCorps NCCC, and WGDR/WGDH radio. He may be reached at mgermaine93@gmail.com. Editor Jason Togyer contributed to this story.

Originally published December 15, 2021.

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