Lower Burrell police should have dog, handler by end of May
The Lower Burrell Police Department should have a police dog and its officer-handler on staff again by the end of May.
Patrolman Steve Cernava on Monday began canine-officer training at Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, north of Sharon, Chief Tim Weitzel said.
During the six-week program, Cernava will be paired with a German shepherd that will join the department once the training is complete.
The new dog will be trained in tracking, drug detection and helping to apprehend suspects, Weitzel said.
Cernava, a 15-year veteran of Lower Burrell's police force, has not been a canine officer before, the chief said.
“He's got a lot of energy to get it done,” Weitzel said. “It will be good to have a K-9 again.”
Patrolman Derek Kotecki was the department's canine officer until he was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 12, 2011. His police dog, Odin, was retired to live with Kotecki's family.
The department requested a German shepherd, the same breed as Odin, Weitzel said.
A specific dog has not been selected for Lower Burrell, Weitzel said. Each of the 17 officers in the training program will be paired with available dogs during the first few days of class as they bond.
The officers remain at the training facility near the Ohio border throughout the week, Weitzel said. He joked that Cernava drew the short straw and is sleeping in the room closest to the kennels of barking dogs.
The cost of the dog and training, estimated at $13,000, is being funded through a donation from Trib Total Media, Weitzel said. That's the parent company of the Valley News Dispatch.
Longtime sergeant retires
Sgt. Ted Meixelsberger retired on April 1 after 32 years with the department, Weitzel said.
Meixelsberger, 57, of Upper Burrell suffered serious leg injuries two years ago when a drunken driver crashed into his police car as he was responding to a call in New Kensington. He returned to duty last year.
“We could have lost him then,” Councilman David Regoli said. The accident occurred about six months before Kotecki's death.
The other driver, Jessica Blandford, then 23, of New Kensington was found guilty of aggravated assault while driving drunk. She was sentenced in September to serve up to 23 months in jail. Since she was given credit for time served at an inpatient alcohol abuse-treatment program, she was expected to serve about six months in jail. Court records indicate she is on parole.
Meixelsberger filed a lawsuit in January seeking damages in excess of $30,000 from Blandford and the Terrace Inn, which allegedly served Blandford drinks shortly before the crash.
Regoli, Mayor Don Kinosz and other city officials thanked Meixelsberger for his years of service.
Regoli quipped that his experience with Meixelsberger began when Regoli was a teenager and received a warning from Meixelsberger for driving carelessly when he squealed tires while leaving a parking lot.
Kinosz said he is hopeful the city will be able to fill the vacancy created by Meixelsberger's retirement, but the mayor said he needs to review finances and discuss the situation with council.
If the position is filled, the officer will be the fourth hired in the last year, joining new Patrolmen Stephen Aulerich, Vincent Sekanick and Brendan Noll.
The department would have 16 full-time officers, including Weitzel, if Meixelsberger is replaced.
Kinosz said council also is continuing to negotiate a new police contract with officers. The last pact expired in January. Kinosz said he is hopeful a new deal will be reached soon.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or email@example.com.
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.
- Teens held for trial in New Kensington cobbler heist
- Freeport Area to explore options for storing maintenance equipment
- 3 named to do jobs of former South Butler School official
- Brackenridge approves sewer line repair, curb installations
- Roofs to cost Freeport Area as much as $1.7 million over 3 years
- Butler organization seeks answers for unexplained phenomena
- ‘Banshee’ props, inventory up for sale
- Picketer found to be at fault in accident at ATI plant
- Lower Burrell resident blames sewer project for fouling spring water
- Steelworkers scoff at ATI earnings claim
- ATI continues to produce, ship products