public safety

Officer Tom Rutowski is this year’s Mt. Lebanon Police Department Officer of the Year. He is pictured here representing the department at a rally for high school principal Brian McFeeley, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. /Photo: Harrison Lilley

OFFICER OF THE YEAR An officer with an enviable work ethic and a willingness to step up and perform whatever task is needed to further the department’s mission without hesitation or complaint. That’s how Mt. Lebanon Police Chief Aaron Lauth described Officer Tom Rutowski when he presented him as the 2019 Mt. Lebanon Police Officer of the Year this fall. “During your time with the MLPD, you have earned the respect, confidence and admiration of both your peers and supervisors,” he said. “You routinely go above and beyond what is expected. You are known to have innovative ideas when answering calls and you provide an extremely high level of service.”

A 22-year veteran of the Mt. Lebanon Police Department, Rutowski is the administrator of the field training program, which means he spends the first two weeks with each newly hired officer. He orders all equipment, explains all administrative tasks and reviews all department procedure.
He also is a member of the firearms training unit, where he enhanced the training procedure by pointing out areas that needed to be improved. “You have taken your new responsibilities to heart and completely immersed yourself in doing the best you can for the benefit of the department and the community,” Lauth said.


FRY SAFE If you’re going to use turkey fryers, use them outside, away from the house and NOT on decks or porches. Do not overfill the fryer with oil—it can spill and start a fire. Make sure your turkey is thawed. Putting a frozen or partially frozen turkey in a fryer will cause steam to expand and push the oil out, which can burn you or start a fire.


SOUND INVESTMENT Ballistic vests have a five-year shelf life; after that, the fibers begin to break down and the officers are not adequately protected. Additionally, vests are constantly getting better, thinner and lighter, and that helps officers move better.

About nine months ago, several Mt. Lebanon police officers began to test drive three of their top choices for vests, wearing each one for three months and comparing wear, fit and mobility, to prepare for the replacement of their current vests. After the evaluation, the top choice was a vest from Survival Armor, a durable “external” vest that cost a total of $42,826 to outfit all 46 officers.

A recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the city of Eau Claire and the Mayo Clinic Health System revealed officers who wear the majority of their approximately 30 pounds of equipment on their vests instead of their belts experience less hip and lower back pain. The vests allow the weight to be better distributed and did not adversely affect the officers’ range of motion.

Each officer now has a new vest and in five years, they will start the evaluation process again and choose new protective gear based on what is state-of-the-art then.

You walk across the street at crosswalks. It’s right there in the name.

Police continue to see many people crossing outside of the crosswalks in our busy business districts. Even worse, some people only make it halfway across until traffic appears in the far lane, causing them to stop in the center of the road and wait for it to clear. Don’t do it! Use the crosswalk, please.