Public safety

Police officer in a high school setting.
Mt. Lebanon Police Officer Jeffrey Bileck took over as school resource officer at Mt. Lebanon High School. /Photo: Judy Macoskey

NEW HIGH SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER Jeffrey Bileck is Mt. Lebanon High School’s new school resource officer (SRO). Bileck has 20 years’ experience with the Mt. Lebanon Police Department, serving in the patrol and traffic units.

In 2018, the Mt. Lebanon Police Department partnered with the school district to provide a full-time SRO, who advises on safety and security, gives presentations on a number of subjects to teachers, students and staff, and guest-lectures at classes in health classes and  business law. Ofc. Bryan Henley was the first full-time SRO, and Bileck took over from Henley in February.

Bileck welcomes the change in routine, and the regular hours, 7:30 to 3:30, that accompany the post.

“I’m not missing my kids’ soccer games and school functions,” he said. “This is so different from what I’m used to. It’s a very positive environment. The kids and the staff have been wonderful, very welcoming.”

Bileck enjoys spending time in the classrooms, educating students in the basics of police procedures and the court system, and in a health curriculum centered on alcohol and opiates.

“My goal with this position is to ensure the safety of the staff and students, maintain a strong, positive bond between the police and the school district/students and, hopefully, educate the students in certain areas of the laws to give them the knowledge to make better decisions when faced with adversities,” he said. “I am grateful to Officer Henley, who laid the groundwork for this position and made it what it is today.  His hard work made my transition seamless and easy.  I hope to maintain his level of dedication throughout my assignment.”

Drone in the air with police in the background.
Mt. Lebanon’s drone team lent its expertise to South Park police in apprehending a fleeing suspect. /Photo: Ken Lager

SEND IN THE DRONES In February, Mt. Lebanon police assisted the South Park Police Department in apprehending a burglary and domestic violence suspect by deploying one of the department’s drones.

The suspect was hiding in a wooded area, and South Park police set up a perimeter and Mt. Lebanon Cpl. Bill Himan, a licensed drone pilot, operated the equipment, along with an officer from Elizabeth Township. By attaching a thermal imaging camera to the drone, the officers directed South Park police to the suspect’s location.

Mt. Lebanon purchased its first drone in 2020, and Himan pursued certification. Now several other officers also are licensed operators. The department has employed drones to find missing persons, and to clear houses where suspects may be hiding.

“If somebody comes home and finds their house is ransacked, there may still be someone inside the house,” said Cpl. Ty Kegarise. “We can surround the house, send the drone in and clear the house, one space at a time.”

The Mt. Lebanon drone pilots are taking the lead in forming a team that will include officers from other South Hills communities.

“It’s nice to have (drones) available, not only to us here in Mt. Lebanon, but as a regional asset.”


NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT MRTSA Medical Rescue Team South Authority (MRTSA) has hired Doug DeForrest as its executive director. DeForrest is a paramedic with 30 years’ experience in emergency response, including serving as a volunteer firefighter, a Westmoreland County deputy sheriff, tactical paramedic with the Pennsylvania State Police Special Emergency Response Team and an emergency medical services practical educator. DeForrest comes to MRTSA from UPMC, where he worked as emergency medical services quality improvement specialist. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA from Seton Hill University.


CHECK THE REARVIEW When you’re behind the wheel, be extra cautious when backing up; make sure your vehicle is clear of pedestrians. Stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. If you’ve been driving a long time and you feel drowsy, find a safe, well-lit place to pull over and rest.


CHECK THE GRILL Every spring, the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department responds to a few propane grill fires. The No. 1 cause? Grease buildup from last year. Running a close second is propane leaks.

If you have a gas grill, check for leaks from the propane tank. You can check for leaks the same way you check for leaks from car tires: Mix water and dish soap together and put it around the connection and turn on the grill. If you see bubbles, you have a leak.

Treat a grill like a fire pit. Keep it at least 15 feet away from anything that can catch fire.