Chief's Corner

Jun 03

[ARCHIVED] Police value transparency and respect for all citizens

The original item was published from June 3, 2020 11:38 AM to June 3, 2020 11:43 AM

Recently I have received several inquiries from residents about the South Fayette Township Police Department’s philosophy regarding training, transparency and accountability in light of serious issues facing communities across the country such as excessive use of force and racial discrimination.

South Fayette Township believes in hiring and training law enforcement professionals who uphold the values of community policing, transparency and respect for all citizens.

I believe it all starts with recruiting and hiring the proper people to serve as police officers. Candidate vetting includes an in-depth background check, polygraph exam, medical and psychological testing, and written and oral exams. Our department also reviews applicants’ social media posts and comments.

The nature of law enforcement requires continual adjustment to a myriad of ever-changing challenges, threats and obstacles. But one thing remains constant at all times, regardless of how difficult things become: We always strive to follow the South Fayette Police Department’s mission of serving the community and stay true to our oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and protect the people we serve.

Since becoming police chief in August 2014, I have made it my mission to serve the community of South Fayette and create a culture that is transparent and community oriented. I have implemented programs like Coffee with the Chief and Cup with a Cop, along with many other community-based programs that foster positive interactions between citizens and officers. We aren’t just faces in a patrol car; we care for this community.

To continue our culture of transparency, our department will be begin the use of body-worn cameras later this year. Along with our in-car cameras, body-worn cameras assist the police administration with monitoring officer and civilian behavior, which in turn helps determine how we need to improve or what type of training we should emphasize moving forward.

Our department also monitors and records any use-of-force incidents and works to ensure officers follow our policies that govern appropriate levels of force. After any critical incident, officers conduct a debrief that is documented and made available to all officers to review. This again assists us with learning what was done right and what we need to improve upon.

These are turbulent times. Through it all, I would like to ensure all South Fayette residents that our police department will continue to serve and protect its residents and will always be adapting to ever-changing challenges.

For more information about our mission and community programs, please visit the South Fayette police webpage.

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township


Elizabeth Dobbs
June 3, 2020 at 12:45 PM
Thank you for addressing this, Chief! I so appreciate the efforts being undertaken in screening applicants. Is there any continuing monitoring similar to these efforts? In theory we think "we'll know" if something changes but sometimes that's not the case. Thanks for your consideration!