Patrolman Derek Kotecki
End of Watch: October 12, 2011
On October 2, 2011, Charles Post allegedly fired a dozen shots at his boss in the parking lot of the Clarion Hotel, Tarentum Bridge Road, New Kensington, PA. Because of this incident local police, New Kensington, Lower Burrell, Upper Burrell, Tarentum, Harrison Township, Plum Boro and basically all departments in the area known as the Alle-Kiski Valley, were on the lookout for Charles Post. On the night of October 2, 2011 a Lower Burrell Detective called Post’s cell phone and asked him to turn himself in. He was now wanted for attempted homicide and gun charges. Post responded by telling the detective that his gun was loaded with 14 bullets…”Thirteen for the cops and one for me”.
Officer Derek Kotecki’s shift started at 1900 hrs. October 12, 2011. Just starting his shift, he and other area police officers were advised that Charles Post was going to be at the Dairy Queen restaurant on Greensburg Road in Lower Burrell. He would be in a white jeep. Upon their arrival Officer Kotecki exited his SUV patrol vehicle with his partner K9 Odin, not knowing that Charles Post was hiding by laying in the back seat of his SUV. As Patrolman Kotecki and his canine, Odin, approached, the man suddenly sat up and opened fire through the closed rear window from a distance of about 10 feet. Patrolman Kotecki was struck in the head, abdomen, and left arm.
Post then exited the vehicle and ran to the rear of the property where he encountered a high fence. Assisting Officers went to the aid of Officer Kotecki while others gave chase of Charles Post. As police fired several shots at Post, Post shot himself in the same instant.
K9 Odin was uninjured but had to be muzzled after refusing to leave Patrolman Kotecki's side. Patrolman Kotecki had served with the Lower Burrell Police Department for 18 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
It will take Lower Burrell a lifetime to hear after the death of Patrolman Derek Kotecki, a city councilman said. "Derek was a first-class individual and he was a wonderful officer, husband, father, son," said city Councilman David Regoli. "He represented the city as well as any officer could represent the city." Patrolman Kotecki, a K9 Officer, had pushed to get a police dog for the department. Officer Kotecki, 40, played Little League baseball in Lower Burrell and played on the Burrell High School basketball team. He joined the Lower Burrell police force in October 1993 at the age of 22. Patrolman Derek Kotecki was the father of two boys, Regoli said. His father, Richard, is a former city councilman. "Our community has lost one of the finest public servants that we have," Regoli said. "More importantly, two children lost a father and his wife lost a husband and his parents lost a son." Councilman Joe Grillo called Kotecki a "dedicated" officer who worked well with police dogs. "He was a good father and husband — a good family man," said Grillo, who is in charge of public safety.
Regoli said calls poured in on his cell phone about the incident, and he hoped the news wasn’t true. "It’s devastating," Regoli said. "As a city official, this is the call you would never want to get." Kotecki is believed to be the first Lower Burrell officer to be killed in the line of duty. "This is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a community," Regoli said. Officials were wracked with the shock of the incident happening in their quiet hometown. "This is something that you’d never expect to have in this community," Regoli said. "It’s the worst day I’ve had as a public official." Said Grillo, "You would think this would happen in big cities."
Kotecki patrolled the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD, as a part-time officer before he was hired full time in Lower Burrell under then-Chief William Newell. In a 1994 interview with the Valley News Dispatch, Kotecki said he welcomed the chance to police his hometown. "I wanted to be able to go home and actually feel like I did something at the end of the day," he said.
Patrolman Kotecki was involved with some of the first Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) programs in Burrell School District.
Patrolman Kotecki in the 1994 interview indicated even in relatively low-crime Lower Burrell, officers still face risks and can’t be lazy in their crime-fighting techniques. "You have to become more aggressive and find out what’s going on," he said. "You can’t sit and wait for a call to come to you telling you that a burglary is in progress. You don’t want to be the last to know”.
Rest in Peace Patrolman Derek Kotecki