WHO KNEW? Chances are you have a junk drawer. And chances are you tossed a bunch of 9-volt batteries in there among the I’m-not-sure-what-this-opens keys and bent paper clips. Turns out that this is not a good idea. If a metal object comes in contact with both the positive and negative posts of a 9-volt battery—even a weak one—the battery could short circuit and start a fire. The National Fire Protection Agency suggests storing 9-volt batteries in their plastic packaging or covering the posts with tape. Before disposing of 9-volt batteries, cover the posts with tape. And don’t toss any battery in the trash—bring them to the customer service center at the Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building, 710 Washington Road, for proper disposal. Please cover the posts of all batteries with tape before dropping them off.
POLICY MAKERS Mt. Lebanon Police Chief Coleman McDonough is one of an eight-member committee formed by the Allegheny County Chief’s Association to create a best practice policy for electronic recording of custodial interrogations. Representatives from eight Allegheny County Police Departments will work with the district attorney’s office to create the new policy. The goals of the policy, as stated in the National District Attorney’s Association Policy on Electronic Recording of Statements, include protecting officers from claims of misconduct, reducing motions to suppress statements, removing the need for testimony as to what was said and done during interviews, allowing interviewing officers to concentrate on suspects’ responses without distracting note taking, protecting suspects who are innocent, serving as a training tool for officers conducting interviews, and providing protection against civil damage awards based on alleged police misconduct. Video and audio taping interrogations will help remove any doubt as to the use of questionable tactics by interviewers, whether the suspect is properly advised of his or her constitutional rights and that all waivers are voluntary. The end result will be an accurate, recorded interrogation that can be used as the case proceeds toward and during trial. Presently 19 states and Washington, D.C., mandate the video or audio recording of interrogations and have policies in place. Pennsylvania is not one of those states. The committee is also tasked with updating policies for eyewitness identification procedures. The completed guideline will be distributed to the 130-plus police departments in Allegheny County.
CHECK THE NUMBERS Mt. Lebanon Fire Department’s annual report is out, and the numbers look good. Last year, Mt. Lebanon firefighters responded to 1,711 calls—an increase of 8 percent over 2012. There were no fire fatalities and total fire loss was estimated at $240,403, or $8.88 per capita, well below the national average of $38-$42 per capita. In addition, firefighters conducted 697 building inspections, uncovering 3,468 violations (of which all but 59 were corrected), issued 1,720 permits, installed 134 smoke detectors, inspected 79 chimneys, participated in 34 block parties and 27 community events and conducted 88 station tours and seven senior safety programs.
If you’d like to get more details and read about the department’s goals and objectives for 2014, the entire 16-page report is available for download at www.mtlfd.org.