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Penn Hills budget surplus paves way for expansions to police dept.

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The budget surplus in Penn Hills will allow for additions to the police department.

Three new patrol officers and a lieutenant will join the department's ranks, Mayor Anthony DeLuca said at the Dec. 16 budget hearing. With the passage of the 2014 budget — expected at council's Dec. 20 meeting — the total number of police in the Penn Hills budget will increase from 50 to 53.

Not only that, but one of the department's lieutenants will serve as the crime-prevention officer, a designation that was scaled back in 2011 when the federal funding for its programming was eliminated.

Detective Bill Trogler was named the new crime-prevention officer in 2011, but was only able to perform its functions on a part-time, as-available basis.

Trogler's primary responsibility is juvenile investigations.

Chief Howard Burton said that while none of the federal funding has been restored as of yet, an increase in the administrative staff at the police department is making way for the return of a popular position among residents. Prior to Trogler, the position belonged to Dennis Lynch, who held regular community meetings and sent out updates to residents through an email blast.

DeLuca said the changes came about through discussions with Penn Hills police Chief Howard Burton and Rayan.

“Public safety is very important to this administration,” DeLuca said.

Visitors to Pennhills.org will find a “Crime Prevention Information Page” link at the bottom of the page, which will allow them to report suspicious activity.

Burton and the department also are changing the way that police respond to those reports.

“We've broken the town up into four different patrol areas,” he said.

“If we get a report about something happening , we can send out an email blast to the right area, so we're not emailing everyone in town about something happening in one part.”

DeLuca said that while crime-prevention meetings will not held as often as in the past, they would be scheduled at least twice per year.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media.

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