Heidelberg names new police chief
Heidelberg Police Lieutenant Dennis Dixon was promoted this month to the rank of chief during the regular August meeting of the Heidelberg Borough Council. Dixon was named by a unanimous vote, succeeding the recently retired Vernon Barkley.
“It’s a good feeling,” Dixon said. “I don’t consider police work as a job. I love to come to work. I love to see the community, interact with the community. I see it as an extension of my family.”
Dixon, who grew up in the South Hills, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Duquesne University and joined the Heidelberg Police Department in 2007 after graduating from the Mercyhurst North East Municipal Police Training Academy. He worked part-time as a patrol officer for both the Heidelberg and University of Pittsburgh police departments until his full-time promotion to the former in 2008.
Dixon soon received the department’s first police dog in some years, a German Shepherd named Rocky, through a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Dixon said he felt fortunate to work with a K-9 officer so early in his career.
“I know a lot of officers wait many years. I was very fortunate to be able to jump on board,” he said. “Everybody loved Rocky.”
The two worked together through Dixon’s 2010 promotion to sergeant until 2015, when Rocky was euthanized following his diagnosis with cancer. Dixon received additional law enforcement and leadership training at the FBI Academy in 2016 and was promoted to sergeant the following year.
Barkley, who was the Heidelberg Police Chief for the past 13 years, commended Dixon for his “outstanding performance” and enthusiasm for his job. Barkley leaves Heidelberg for the Burgettstown Area School District, where he started work this month as a school police officer.
“I think I have a lot to offer the students here as well as the faculty,” he said.
Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review contributor.