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Chief's Corner

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police


Oct 05

Police committed to understanding community needs

Posted on October 5, 2017 at 3:41 PM by Andrea Iglar

Policing in America in the 21st century can be challenging for both police officers and citizens alike. In South Fayette Township, residents come from a multitude of backgrounds, environments and cultures that we as law enforcement officers must be aware of and sensitive to. Similarly, it is helpful for the public to be aware of what influences police officers.

Most police departments are understaffed and overworked, with officers running from call to call and at times becoming bogged down in endless mountains of paperwork. At times, officers can feel overwhelmed and underappreciated, and because of this just want to “get the job done” before moving on to the next task. Under such conditions, officers can become unintentionally insensitive to the people we serve.

Furthermore, police training generally involves communicating with short, abrupt commands to direct people, and officers nationwide base the way they interact with the public on laws, statutes and ordinances. While this type of training helps officers fulfill their primary function to protect and serve, officers often tend to miss social cues or take into account differences in communication styles, backgrounds and experiences that influence individual citizens.

However, in today’s world, citizens expect officers to be less routine and more sensitive to the needs of the public. That is one reason I believe in community immersion, which means having our officers attend community meetings, conduct bike patrols throughout our neighborhoods and trails, and communicate with our business owners and residents. This community-oriented approach has been adopted by many larger police departments, including the City of Pittsburgh.

The South Fayette Township Police Department strives to be more than just a face in a patrol car. We provide programs to enhance communication with our community, such as Coffee with the Chief, Project Teddy Bear, Project Lifesaver, the School Resource Officer, Child Car Seat Installation Inspections, and the Drug Take-Back Box, to name a few. (Find a full list at These initiatives have proven to be effective across the United States in breaking down barriers between the police and the community.

As always, we continue to strive to better serve and protect South Fayette Township. Thank you for your continued support.

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
Jun 19

Displaying street numbers on homes helps ensure swift emergency response

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 10:36 AM by Andrea Iglar

South Fayette Township police officers pride themselves on quickly responding to emergency calls. You can help us arrive at the correct address in a timely fashion by clearly displaying your street number on your home or business.

It is the responsibility of every owner, trustee, agent and occupant of every building—including but not limited to residential, commercial and industrial properties—to place the street address numbers in a conspicuous place on or over each front door.

The number must be easily readable from the street and shall not be obstructed by any item that tends to conceal the number from sight. This includes overgrown bushes, branches and trees.

In addition, house numbers should be placed on mailboxes. Both sides of the mailbox should display the numbers so they can be seen from all directions. If the mailbox is not directly in front of the building, house numbers also should be placed on the entryway of the building.

If all citizens adhere to this requirement, police officers and other first responders will reach anyone in need more quickly and easily in an emergency, thus enhancing the safety of all building occupants.

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
Mar 30

Abandoned vehicles can lead to penalties

Posted on March 30, 2017 at 1:26 PM by Andrea Iglar

South Fayette’s many departments work continuously throughout the year to keep our community clean and safe. As the police department, one of our many duties is trying to minimize the amount of vehicles found abandoned around our 21- square-mile township, which as you can imagine, is almost a full-time job. We have two officers assigned to investigating and following up on nuisance vehicles that are found or reported within our community.

Our township code specifically reads that any vehicle that does not lawfully have current registration and inspection shall be removed after notification by police. After notification, the vehicle owner has 10 days to remove the vehicle or bring it to code, or else the owner will be cited and the vehicle towed at the owner’s expense. Fines for this violation can be up to $1,000.

We appreciate your cooperation in keeping our community safe and beautiful.


John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police