Public safety

Police chief shakes the hand of a new recruit
Police Chief Jason Haberman congratulates Alexis Pihoker on her graduation from the Allegheny County Police Academy. Pihoker is one of several new officers staffing the department. /Photo: Dan Cuiffi

CRITICAL INCIDENT SAFETY During a January incident that required a callout of the Critical Incident Response Team, a special tactics unit staffed by members of South Hills police departments, police advised residents to remain indoors until the incident was resolved. If that situation arises in your neighborhood, Cpl. Ty Kegarise of the Mt. Lebanon Police Department’s Community Outreach Unit, has some advice.

“Our officers are trained to focus on keeping everyone safe,” he said. “Even if there may not be an apparent threat, they will always exercise an abundance of caution.”

Kegarise understands the frustration that comes from being in the middle of a situation and not having up to date information, but there are certain details police are not free to release immediately, as it may jeopardize the situation.

“As much as we want to be transparent, there are some things we can’t immediately discuss,” he said. “Please, just stay in place until the situation is all clear.”

You can stay informed about potential life-threatening emergencies through LeboEmergency, Mt. Lebanon’s customized emergency notification system, which lets you pick how you receive alerts about life-threatening situations  such as active shooters, gas leaks, evacuations, missing persons, chemical leaks and potentially deadly weather. Enroll by texting texting LEBO to 99411, or visit

You can receive less urgent notifications, such as meeting cancellations, trash pickup delays and road closings, through LeboALERT, which you can also sign up for on the municipality’s website, by clicking on the myLebo icon.


FILLING THE RANKS With four new officers in field training after graduating from the Allegheny County Police Academy, and one more in the academy, the Mt. Lebanon Police Department is approaching a full complement of personnel for the first time in several years. The new hires free up some experienced officers to move from patrol to specialty units, which had been understaffed because of the need to put an adequate number of officers on the streets.

Kegarise says the move is already starting to have positive results, especially in the traffic unit.

“Traffic and parking are the biggest issues we receive complaints about day to day,” he said. “The new patrol officers will allow us to move some of our more experienced officers back to  our traffic services, investigative services  and community outreach units, to provide the level of service our residents have come to expect.”


LOOK UP LEBO If the street you’re walking on doesn’t have a sidewalk, walk on the left-hand shoulder of the road, facing oncoming traffic. If you’re crossing the road, even if a driver has motioned you ahead, make sure there is no traffic in an adjacent lane. Make eye contact with drivers even if you have the right of way to ensure they can see you.


LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES: A REMINDER Lithium-ion batteries store a lot of energy in a small amount of space. When that energy is released in an uncontrolled manner, it generates heat, which can turn certain internal battery components into flammable and toxic gases.

The batteries can catch fire if you use an incompatible charger. Also, some cheaper brands of batteries are prone to starting a fire, as are batteries that have been damaged in some way, such as being crushed or exposed to water.

Here are some suggestions for safely using and storing lithium-ion batteries:

Buy batteries that are certified by Underwriter Laboratories.

Do not store batteries in extremely hot or cold locations.

Use charging equipment that is only compatible with your device. To be safe, use only the charging equipment that is supplied with your device.

Charge the batteries in your garage, away from your main living space and out of the path of your egress from the home. Garages generally carry a higher fire safety rating than the rest of the house.

Stop charging a battery once it is full.

Stop using your device if the battery shows signs of damage, such as an unusual odor, excessive heat, popping sounds, swelling, or change in odor.

If your battery is smoking, call 911. The battery can go from smoking to fully engulfed in a short time.

If you see a fire, get out and call 911. Do not try to put it out yourself.

Do not dispose of lithium-ion batteries with your regular trash and recycling. They can cause fires during transport or at landfills and recyclers. Mt. Lebanon is hosting a series of household hazardous waste disposal events on April 6, June 8 and August 10. Details here.