Westmoreland County

Police board votes to fire Ligonier Valley chief John Berger

LIGONIER, Pa. — Details surrounding last week’s raid at the Ligonier Valley Police Department remain limited.

But what is clear, the department is quickly turning the page and moving on from now-former chief John Berger, who was terminated Tuesday night.

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The Ligonier Valley Police Commission voted unanimously to fire Berger and appoint Mike Matrunics as chief.

“Is this preemptive? The answer is no, we need to move forward,” said Solicitor Mark Sorice. “We need a decision now. We need to reassure that the integrity of the department is maintained.”

Matrunics was previously the chief of Ligonier Township Police before becoming the assistant chief of Ligonier Valley Police, under Berger, when the Township and Borough police departments merged.

“Mike has been an officer here, I think, since 1992,” said Sorice.

According to Sorice, Matrunics and the rest of the police force were not targets of the Homeland Security and State Police raid on Thursday — only Berger.

Agents seized Berger’s phone and police cruiser.

The reason for the raid is still unclear and search warrants remain sealed.

“The only items that were subject to the warrant belong to John Berger. There’s no other indication that any other members are the subject of any investigation whatsoever,” said Sorice.

Berger has not yet been charged with a crime.

Officials say Matrunic’s tenure as chief is effective immediately.

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