DeVerse is leaving today

November 26, 2011
McKeesport Daily News

A Glassport law enforcement specialist finally will have a chance to impart some wisdom overseas after months of delay.

Deputy police Chief Shawn DeVerse is flying from Pittsburgh today to begin the process of teaching U.S. policing techniques with law enforcement officials in Afghanistan.

“I’m excited to go and have this experience,” DeVerse said. “On the same note, I’m nervous and scared to death.”

DeVerse’s title for the new position is uniformed Afghan police mentor. He, along with officers from all over the country, will be training Afghan officers in some of the techniques used in the United States. The effort is through DynCorp International, a global government service provider in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives.

The deputy chief spent this past week with his wife Kathy and their three children, Meghan, 10; Lindsay, 10; and Gavin, 5.

“It’s been real emotional with my family,” DeVerse said. “I’ve just been kind of keeping to myself with my kids and my wife.”

He will travel this morning to Memphis, Tenn., where he will be picked up by the government and transported to a location in Little Rock, Ark. He then will take part in physical conditioning and weapons training before traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, and DynCorp headquarters. He will fly from Texas to Afghanistan.

An extensive background check was part of the process in DeVerse’s selection, and his departure was delayed several times with paperwork. DeVerse originally was set to leave in September and again in October.

DeVerse contacted U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, to see if he could help get the paperwork pushed through, and credits Doyle with moving the process forward.

Doyle’s communications director Matt Dinkel said the federal Office of Personnel Management was contacted on Sept. 22, 23 and 29 as well as Oct. 14, and the congressman personally contacted OPM director John Berry regarding the matter.

“(Doyle) helped get the ball rolling in Washington, D.C.,” DeVerse said. “I had no idea that security clearance took some lengthy time. I was advised by DynCorp that it would take maybe four to six weeks. I come to find out they could take anywhere from four weeks to four months. It’s just a matter of how backed up the Office of Personnel Management is. After (that office) approved it, it had to go over to the Department of Defense and Department of Army for final approval.

“That was all sped up. Once the congressman got involved everything went along pretty expeditiously,” he said.

The departure confirmation also ends a roller coaster of emotions within the DeVerse household.

“Of course they don’t want me to go, but I think they have a little relief knowing that I’m actually going versus being held back again,” DeVerse said.

Glassport police Chief Howard Kifer took DeVerse off the schedule for some time as he was planning to maintain borough coverage in the deputy chief’s absence.

During his time in limbo, DeVerse continued to work in the borough primarily in narcotics investigations. He went back on the schedule two weeks ago while the paperwork issue was addressed. Kifer took DeVerse back off active patrols after a departure date was confirmed.

“He’s deputy chief,” Kifer said. “He pulled a lot of weight. The department’s going to miss him. The family, the borough will miss him. We can’t fill a deputy chief position, but we have to fill his schedule.”

Part-time officers will fill the schedule as well as serve different functions while DeVerse is away, the chief said.

Council unanimously approved an agreement holding DeVerse’s job and retiring his K-9 partner Zen for the time he is gone. That agreement has since been amended due to DeVerse’s delayed departure.

DeVerse said the new deal took effect Monday and extends through February 2013. He also must give the borough 30 days notice if he is to return in December 2012, when the agreement was originally set to expire.

When DeVerse comes back he will have to get Zen re-certified as a police dog in order for the borough to reinstate his uniT.

“All the other parts of the agreement, as far as the dog and security in the rank, stayed the same,” he said.

The company is providing Internet access so DeVerse can communicate with his family via email and Skype. He is expected to return at the end of next year.

DeVerse said he was selected to participate in training overseas based on his military and police experience. He served in the Army as a private first class from 1988-90 in an armory unit in Germany.

DeVerse was hired as a part-time Glassport officer in December 1996. He was promoted to full time in 2005, to sergeant at the end of that year, and to lieutenant in 2007. He was bumped up to deputy chief in 2008.