Chiefs talk safety at chamber luncheon
Monongahela police Chief Brian Tempest said there was a time he could drive past the intersections of Second and Main streets and Third and Railroad streets and see suspected drug dealers lingering near pay phones.
“We had a lot of drug problems in the business district and, unfortunately, in our own department,” Tempest said.
Tempest and Carroll Township police Chief Paul Brand discussed security during a Monongahela Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday at Hill's Restaurant in New Eagle.
When Tempest talked about problems in the department, he was referring to former officer George Langan.
Langan pleaded guilty to criminal use of a communications facility, obstruction of justice, hindering apprehension and official oppression in November 2010.
By entering the plea, Langan avoided possible conviction on numerous drug-related charges.
Tempest said that since 2008, more than 100 arrests of suspected drug dealers have been made in the city.
In 2008, with the support of newly-elected Mayor Bob Kepics, Tempest reached out to local, state and federal authorities.
He credited the support of the Washington County District Attorney's Drug Task Force and Kepics. Tempest said the county pumped close to $250,000 in drug task force efforts into the city.
“Are we ever going to solve all of the problems? No. But we drove them underground or out of town,” Tempest said.
Tempest said that while driving through another Valley town – which he declined to identify – he has seen drug suspects who used to operate in Monongahela.
The chief said one heroin dealer, with whom authorities tried to set up an undercover buy, told him, “I won't sell to you in Monongahela, Carroll Township or New Eagle.”
The illegal sale of prescription drugs is the newest battle for police, Tempest said.
“The only thing we ask you is to be our eyes and ears,” Tempest told the chamber crowd.
“You call 911 to report a suspicious car and six months later that person goes to jail, and it was because of that initial call you made,” Tempest said.
Brand credited Tempest with cleaning up the community.
“Brian was very humble,” Brand told the group. “His force really took it to the drug lords, with the cooperation of the district attorney.”
Brand said there are no magic weapons for fighting and winning the war on drugs.
“There's no dropping the right bomb in this war,” Brand said. “If we arrest the right person, there's another to take their place.”
Chamber President Anthony Bottino said the chiefs were invited to the meeting because keeping communities safe is a priority for the chamber.
“If we're going to do business in our communities and live here, we have to keep our communities safe,” Bottino said.
“I know we have issues, but we're nowhere near what other communities are facing.
“We have such a nice, friendly place to live.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.