Head out to CONSOL Energy Center on Saturday, Oct. 15, to support those who suit up in gear and uniforms for the sake of the public.
Though the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. that evening, we’re not talking about supporting the athletes. We’re talking about supporting the police and, in particular, honoring a fallen officer by contributing to a fund to benefit his grieving family.
On Wednesday, Oct. 12, . The 18-year veteran was shot when he and his K-9 partner, Odin, exited their squad car in the Dairy Queen parking lot along Greensburg Road, where Kotecki had been dispatched to apprehend homicide suspect and fugitive Charlie Post.
Kotecki leaves behind a wife and two young sons, as well as many friends and colleagues.
The Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation (WPPBF) has joined forces with the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation to raise funds to benefit the Kotecki family.
A collection will be held before the Pens game on Saturday. Officers from Allegheny, Westmoreland and Beaver counties will be located inside CONSOL’s gates. They will collect donations from approximately 5 to 8 p.m., according to WPPBF organization secretary and Bethel Park police Officer Andrew Volchko.
Police dogs will also be on hand at CONSOL, Volchko said, to honor the fact that Kotecki was a K-9 unit officer.
Volchko told us that officers from the Lower Burrell Police Department will not participate in the collection since Kotecki’s viewing will be held at that time, during which many of Kotecki’s fellow LBPD officers will serve as color guards. What’s more, the entire LBDP is on leave. The New Kensington Police Department will be covering for them in this difficult time, said Volchko.
The WPPBF is a relatively new nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of officers and officer families in need, regardless of employment status or union affiliation. It was , after the shooting of Clairton police Officer spurred its creation.
Volchko explained that the WPPBF’s immediate response to the news of Kotecki’s slaying demonstrates a crucial point in the WPPBF’s mission.
“We started the ball rolling the same night (Kotecki) was shot,” he said. “We were able to walk into the (LBPD) station and tell the chief that we had it covered, that there was nothing he and his department had to do.
“We were able to get the chief the help he needed. Now we can focus on helping (Kotecki’s) family.”
The Derek Kotecki Memorial Fund was established to benefit the Kotecki family. Donations can be sent to S&T Bank, 4251 Old William Penn Highway, Murrysville, PA, 15668. Please make checks payable to the Derek Kotecki Memorial Fund.
Designated donations can also be made through the WPPBF.