public safety

ON THE BIG SCREEN Next time you catch a movie at The Galleria’s renovated theaters, look for a public service announcement before the movie starts that features Mt. Lebanon Fire Chief Nick Sohyda and Lt. Loren Hughes explaining the theater’s new fire alarm system. Unlike the old system, this one is separate from the mall. This means that theaters will no longer need to be evacuated during false alarms—triggered by children pulling the fire alarm or a smoky restaurant kitchen—as was done in the past. There had been enough false alarms that needlessly disrupted movies to warrant the new system. Firefighters have trained the theater staff about how to alert moviegoers in the event of an actual fire or emergency in the mall.

MLPD Officer Snieper
MLPD Officer Snieper

TAKING A BITE OUT OF CRIME After about a year and a half of training, Snieper, Mt. Lebanon Police Department’s new canine, is ready to hit the streets. Snieper, a Belgian Malinois born in Holland, replaces Sundi, a German Shepherd who died suddenly following a training session.
Along with suspect apprehension, Snieper has been trained in tracking and  drug search. He also is trained to search for items a suspect may have tossed away during a chase.
Snieper’s handler and partner, Officer Ben Himan, has been training along with Snieper. Snieper lives with Himan and his family. All of the commands Himan gives Snieper are in Dutch to lessen the chances that someone  could counter  his commands.
“I had to go get Rosetta Stone,” he says with a smile.
Himan’s brother is also a canine officer.  He works for the Miamisburg, Ohio, Police Department.

All of the food for the 70-pound dog—Purina Pro Plan—is donated to the department, by Green Tree Animal Clinic and Giant Eagle.

A protective vest, paid for by a residents,  is on order, and should be on hand soon. Vested Interest in K9s, a company that provides protective vests for dogs, discounted a vest that normally costs $2,500 to $900.

Snieper is certified through the Pennsylvania Police Work Dog Association and the North American Police Work Dog Association. In addition to enforcement duties, Snieper and Himan participate in the department’s outreach activities, including public demonstrations, foot patrols and neighborhood visits.


SPECIAL NEEDS PROGRAM If someone living with you has a physical, mental or emotional challenge—a child or adult who uses a wheelchair, has autism or mental retardation, for example—stop by the Mt. Lebanon Police Department, 555 Washington Road, and pick up a Premise Alert packet. The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office instituted the Premise Alert program so that during emergencies first responders will have vital—perhaps lifesaving—information about residents with special needs.

The packet includes a short form to be returned to the police department, along with other useful information and things for your home. The police department will provide Allegheny County 911 with the confidential information, which will be shared only with police, fire or medical rescue personnel who are dispatched to your home.

MLPD stickerAmong the things in the  premise alert packet are an “I Have Autism” card with an area for a contact person’s name and phone number. There are stickers for the front door or for a vehicle indicating that a person with special needs who might not understand simple instructions lives there.  And there is information about applying for tracking and home locking devices. You may register online, but you will not receive the stickers and supplemental information available at the public safety center.

Mt. Lebanon Fire Department has offered a similar service, the Special Needs Assessment Program, for several years, so that firefighters can access a computer database from the truck en route to an incident that lets them know if there are residents who might be unable to exit the building independently. The fire department  will retain that database; however, people with special needs  should still be registered for Premise Alert.


BURNING UP It’s time for our annual outdoor fire regulation reminder. Chimineas, portable outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are allowed in Mt. Lebanon provided you use the device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, refrain from burning rubbish or yard waste and make sure someone is with the fire until it is completely extinguished. Always keep a fire extinguisher or water close by. Also, be a good neighbor and pay attention to where the smoke is blowing—your enjoyment should not ruin your neighbor’s evening.

Check for more information about outdoor fireplaces, recreational fires, burn barrels and bonfires.