Full-time drug investigator in works for Mt. Lebanon
Mt. Lebanon officials plan to hire a full-time police investigator to focus on narcotics cases for the first time in the municipality's history.
Commissioners agreed during a meeting this week about the community's 2014 budget to add $127,000 for a fifth member of the police department's investigative division. The $45.1 million spending plan includes no tax increase.
The officer in the position would be dedicated full-time to drug investigations, and this also would be the first time in 12 years that the police department had five investigators.
Police Chief Coleman McDonough said a full-time drug investigator would be able to cultivate informants, debrief suspects and dig up information about drugs in the community.
Currently, one of the four investigators works drug cases part-time while handling other cases, said Lt. Aaron Lauth.
“We've had people die from (drug overdoses),” Commissioner Kelly Fraasch said. “If we had somebody to follow up on some of those cases, we could catch some of the people responsible for the drug use.”
Fraasch is a member of SAFE Lebo, a new effort to reduce drug abuse and educate residents about prevention. Adding police manpower will help show the municipality's commitment, she said.
Following four fatal heroin overdoses in late 2012 and early 2013, SAFE Lebo was formed to tackle the problem of heroin — and its frequent gateway, prescription drug abuse.
Neither the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office nor the county's Chiefs of Police Association knew how many other suburban Pittsburgh police departments have full-time drug investigators.
Commissioners' support for adding a detective was unanimous on Monday. The department likely would give the job to a current detective or patrol officer, then hire a new officer in January to fill the vacancy, Lauth said.
The money will come from about $160,000 in budget cuts. Instead of the municipality buying street furniture, businesses will donate them. The municipality will not enact a proposed recycling reward program. Bids for a trash collection contract came in lower than anticipated.
Commissioners also discussed installing artificial turf at Wildcat and Middle fields, a pair of baseball/softball diamonds along Cedar Boulevard with overlapping outfields, a project expected to cost $1 million..
Outside groups, such as sports teams or the school district, would be required to provide $250,000. The municipality would be responsible for $750,000, with officials expected to tap into money left over from previous years' budgets.
Athletics groups would have side aside money each year for replacement turf. The school district would maintain the field in exchange for using it.
Also, Mt. Lebanon will spend $11,800 for a second aerial deer population survey to compare the number of deer to last year's survey, and educate residents on how to deal with deer and avoid car accidents. No money will be spent to cull the population.
Commissioners could not agree on how the deer population would be controlled if they used Mt. Lebanon's cash reserves to pay for a program later. Commissioner Dave Brumfield said the state Game Commission hadn't studied alternatives to sharpshooting, such as sterilization or birth-control programs.
The commission plans to vote Nov. 25 on amendments to the 2014 budget.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.