CULLIVER: In spite of civil cases, new school police hire a ‘gem’
By Elizabeth Perry
New Sto-Rox School Police Supervisor Andrew Lisiecki is a longtime law enforcement officer with whistleblower tendencies.
Unanimously appointed to the school’s new police force on June 23, Lisiecki’s decades-long career in police work began in 1988 when he became a City of Pittsburgh officer. Over the years, he seems to find himself at the nexus point of incidents that have dominated local news.
Lisiecki was a central figure in the 1998 Jeffrey Cooperstein murder trial. According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports at the time, Officer Cooperstein, who was white, was accused of shooting a Black motorist named Deron S. Grimmitt Sr. following a car chase through the Hill District. Lisiecki initiated the chase that resulted in Grimmitt’s death and testified on Cooperstein’s behalf.
Cooperstein was acquitted, but the trial became a flashpoint about race and policing. Lisiecki later sued Pittsburgh, saying he was demoted because of his support of Cooperstein. According to the Tribune-Review, Lisiecki settled for $95,000.
In 2018, Lisiecki won a $600,000 settlement for unlawful termination against North Huntingdon where he served as police chief from 2012 to 2016. Lisiecki said he was fired for “testifying truthfully against an underling who allegedly tried to keep another officer from charging a township commissioner in a road-rage incident,” according to an Associated Press article.
During a 2010 prostitution sting in Green Tree, where he was Police Chief for three years, he was accused of taking his clothes off and allowing a sex worker to initiate a sexual act before arresting her. The woman filed a criminal complaint against him. The incident was widely reported at the time in a variety of news outlets and he admitted to it in the press.
However, Lisiecki was not disciplined. Stephen Zappala Jr., district attorney for Allegheny County declined to prosecute and Green Tree council members did not reprimand him.
“He never went outside of what he was allowed to do,” Cameron Culliver, Sto-Rox school board president, said. “He was cleared and found of no wrongdoing.”
More recently, Lisiecki was hired by the West Mifflin School Board in 2018 as a school resource officer and then as a Ringgold School District officer in 2021.
Before Lisiecki's hire at Sto-Rox, Culliver said the district performed a thorough investigation into his background.
“I’m looking forward to what you can bring to the school,” Culliver told Lisiecki prior to the board’s vote. “I feel like we hit kind of a gem.”
Lisiecki has been chosen to supervise the school's new police force, at a pay rate of $25 per hour, where he will oversee at least two more officers.
The creation of this school police force was implemented earlier this year as part of the state's financial recovery plan for the struggling district.
When contacted after his hire, Lisiecki declined to speak to a reporter.
Ira Weiss, an attorney representing the school district, reached out in response to questions posed by Gazette 2.0.
Weiss said Lisiecki has not been accused of any criminal behavior. The lawsuits he’s been involved with have been between himself and former employers.
“Those are civil matters,” Weiss said.
Culliver said he was aware of these issues at the time of Lisiecki’s hiring and he sees Lisiecki as a whistleblower.
When contacted to discuss the unanimous appointment, several other school directors declined to speak on the record about their vote.
Weiss said the district is satisfied with its choice to hire Lisiecki. The district worked with both Stowe and McKees Rocks police chiefs to vet him as a candidate, and he passed all of his clearances, Weiss said.
Lisiecki will be sworn in at the court of common pleas according to the school code, Weiss said, but a date has yet to be set.