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Officer Wilker promoted to deputy police chief in Stowe

Current Chief Matthew Preininger stands with Deputy Police Chief Charlie Wilker.

By Elizabeth Perry

There’s a new Deputy Police Chief in Stowe Township.

Stowe commissioners voted to promote Charles Wilker from full-time officer to Deputy Chief of Police on June 13. Robin Parilla was absent, but the vote was otherwise unanimous.

Wilker has been with the township since 2005 as an officer and he’s been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2018.

“I did learn a lot from the FBI all the way up to their third command staff that I’m going to take with me to try to help the guys out there,” Wilker said.

Wilker said he wanted the position because he stayed in contact with many people in the department in Stowe, and saw there was a need for more training.

His plan for the department is to begin implementing training in a variety of techniques including virtual learning, firearms, de-escalation techniques, self-defense and crisis intervention.

“I’ve already started that process. We’re going to work closely with Allegheny County,” Wilker said. Additionally, he would like to incorporate FBI SWAT training.

Wilker said prior to his hiring, the 13-officer department did not have any rank, and everything fell to the chief.

Commissioner's President Kelly Cropper-Hall said reestablishing rank in the police department was a priority.

After increasing the number of officers from five or six to 13, she said the job of managing the force was too big for one person, which is why they brought on the assistant chief.

Cropper-Hall said the addition of Wilker was not a move to eventually replace Preininger as chief.

“Matt [Preininger] is not going anywhere,” Cropper-Hall said.

Chief Matthew Preininger declined to comment.

Commissioner Cheryl McDermott said she was excited about the addition of Wilker to the force.

“I think it was a very good choice, I think he comes with a lot of knowledge and he knows the area very well. I think he will be an asset to Matt [Preininger],” McDermott said.

Cropper-Hall said they interviewed three qualified internal candidates for the job, and it was difficult to choose among them.

Wilker, a father of two, was raised in Pittsburgh and now lives in Ohio Township. His work with the FBI’s Transnational Crime Task Force focused on tracing illicit drugs sold on the streets of Stowe back to their origins.

“We do larger scale narcotics investigations, try to take local drugs back to the source,” Wilker said. Through his work with them, Wilker was involved in a large-scale 2019 case resulting in 30 federal indictments, many involving defendants from McKees Rocks and Stowe. Most of those defendants pled out, Wilker said.


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