Phoennik Chief2.jpg

Chief's Corner

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police


Nov 05

Residents encouraged to call 911 for school bus safety issues

Posted on November 5, 2019 at 8:46 AM by Andrea Iglar

We as officers of the South Fayette Township Police Department work very hard on a daily basis to make sure our motorists are as safe as possible.

I have recently viewed social media comments that police aren’t doing enough to stop the issue of vehicles passing stopped school buses.

Our department wants to catch these violators as much as anyone. Police stopped more than 1,500 cars in 2018 alone and have cited drivers this year for passing school buses. However, we can’t be everywhere all the time, so we need your help.

If at any time somebody sees a traffic violation—especially a driver passing a school bus—please call 911 immediately to have an officer respond. Please attempt to provide as much information as possible about the vehicle description, and police officers will follow up from there.

Our department receives many complaints on traffic issues throughout our 21 square miles of township roads. It is imperative that residents call the police to address potentially unsafe situations.

Our police department will continue to do the best we can to monitor and enforce any traffic violations that we see. Again, the residents can assist us by being our eyes and ears when we are not in the area.

Thank you for your cooperation.


John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township
Sep 13

Mutual understanding key for police and citizens of diverse backgrounds

Posted on September 13, 2019 at 12:26 PM by Andrea Iglar

South Fayette Township is a microcosm of our ever-changing world. Citizens and law enforcement officers both must recognize that today we live in a more global world than a decade ago, especially with the Internet and social media at our fingertips for instant communication. People are interacting with one another more frequently than ever, which means it is of the upmost importance that we understand each other’s culture and way of life.

As your Chief of Police, I am looking into various ways that we as law enforcement officers can meet this challenge head-on by understanding the backgrounds of people who live and work in South Fayette Township. Communication is the key to understanding each other. Not only do we want to help increase police officers’ understanding of citizens, but we also want to assist people from different cultures with understanding local laws and customs.

In the near future, I would like to coordinate a forum for residents of various cultural backgrounds to come together in one setting to discuss any questions or concerns that people may have about our community and how our police department conducts its day-to-day operations. My hope is that this meeting will help our police department better understand our citizens and help ensure a safe community in which we all can live and prosper.

John R. Phoennik
Nov 12

The Dog Blog: How Canines Help Police and Veterans

Posted on November 12, 2018 at 10:22 AM by Andrea Iglar

As most of you know, in December 2017 we added a new officer to our South Fayette family: Ellie Faye, the bloodhound of the South Fayette Township Police Department.

The dog has been very active so far, having been certified through the National Houndsmen Association and having endured the rigorous training regimen required to become nationally licensed. Over the past year, Ellie and her handler, Sgt. Mike Wesolek, have been called upon for assistance 14 times to help find runaway juveniles, people with special needs, lost persons and wanted suspects. The big, floppy bloodhound also has enjoyed meeting—and happily slobbering upon—many children and adults at community events.

Within the police department, Ellie has often lifted our spirits as well as those of residents and visitors. Dogs in general have been known to have a tremendous positive effect on people; as the adage goes, they are “man’s best friend.” That’s why dogs around the country have been well suited to assist veterans and police officers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury—effectively saving the lives of both the veteran and dog.

Pennsylvania in particular has a large per capita population of post-9/11 veterans, and several K-9 programs have assisted veterans and law enforcement officers with the effects of PTSD. The Florida-based charitable organization “K-9s for Warriors,” accredited by the Better Business Bureau, trains service dogs to perform tasks that help quiet the traumatic disabilities faced by some veterans and law enforcement officers. These dogs learn to help with anxiety, depression, isolation and nightmares.

Statistics from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, Harvard University, Purdue University and Indiana University show that on average, veterans consume up to 14 medications a day to treat PTSD or traumatic brain injury, and police officers are at the top of the list for suicides and alcoholism. This makes me stop and think, “Are we doing enough to assist with these disabilities?”

As a police chief who has the upmost respect and gratitude for the men and women who have served our country in the military, I believe the “K-9s for Warriors” program has greatly assisted with these challenges. The program recently conducted a study with 141 participants, half with a service dog and half without. The study found that depression, PTSD symptoms and anxiety levels were significantly lower among the half who were provided with service dogs.

I am pleased that in our community, Ellie can provide comfort to our officers and joy to our community members.

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township