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Murrysville police captain settling into new position

When Tom Kusinsky was working his first law-enforcement job as an Edgewood police patrolman, he enjoyed his fellow officers and the experience he gained, but also quickly noted the borough’s small size.

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“It’s one square mile,” he said. “You’d get dizzy at night driving around.”

Kusinsky was recently promoted to captain at the Murrysville Police Department, where he has worked since May 2005. He replaces outgoing Capt. Chuck Tappe. Kusinsky’s job will be taken over by new Det. Sgt. Daniel Cox, who has been with the department since 2013.

Growing up in Penn Township watching old-school police dramas like “Adam-12” and “Emergency,” Kusinsky said public service was always something that interested him.

“I became a volunteer firefighter when I was 17, and took a vehicle rescue class with Mutual Aid Ambulance,” he said.

Shortly afterward Kusinsky, 53, of Penn Township took an EMT class and a year later was working for Mutual Aid and attending paramedic classes. But he said his ultimate goal was always law enforcement.

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“I kind of put it up on a pedestal. We were raised to sort of put them up above — I didn’t think I could do that,” he said.

To get some more experience under his belt, Kusinsky enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“At 26 years old, everyone called me the ‘old man,’” he said with a laugh. “But I wanted to get the law-enforcement and civil-service experience.”

Kusinsky’s first assignment was aboard a 10-foot Coast Guard cutter out of St. Petersburg, Fla., doing migrant and drug interdiction in American waters in and around Puerto Rico, Haiti and

“We would usually do eight weeks out, two weeks in,” he said.

Kusinsky also attended aviation school and was sent to Cape Cod, Mass., where he did similar drug interdiction but also search-and-rescue work.

After meeting and marrying his wife in New England, Kusinsky returned to western Pennsylvania and with the help of the GI Bill, began attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice Training Center.

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After graduating and landing a full-time job with Edgewood, Kusinsky started testing with other departments and landed atop the list in Murrysville. He was sworn in on May 17, 2005.

“He was my first hire after I came here,” Murrysville Police Chief Tom Seefeld said. “We have a lot of young officers, and he’s helped to bring them along and get them situated here in the department.”

The move from detective-sergeant to captain brings a whole new set of responsibilities to Kusinsky’s workday.

“The captain pretty much oversees day-to-day operations,” he said. “I’m in charge of the budget, I have to approve all the spending, make purchases, and I’m kind of a buffer between the guys and the chief.”

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Kusinsky said he enjoys working in a place like Murrysville where the department’s 21 officers have a chance to meet with the public outside of a legal situation.

“Police sometimes get a bad rap,” he said. “And whether justifiably or not, we don’t want to be seen in that light. That’s a big thing in any department — trying to help people understand we’re here for them.”

For many residents, he said, the only contact with police may be when they get pulled over for speeding.

“Other times, people are seeing the police department on the worst day of their lives,” he said. “But having events like National Night Out, they get to talk with us as people and see us in a different light.”

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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