Fawn’s ‘working police chief’ juggles patrol, administrative duties
It’s not easy being Fawn’s only full-time police officer, but police Chief Tim Mayberry makes do.
“It can be very stressful,” Mayberry said. “If I had to do it all over again, this isn’t the kind of policing I would want to do. It’s not for everybody.”
The Fawn Police Department has two officers. The other officer, Keith Lazaron, works part-time.
Mayberry is what is referred to as a “working chief,” meaning he goes out and responds to emergency calls in addition to administrative duties.
“Everything that a patrol officer does, I have to do,” Mayberry said.
Fawn is not the only Alle-Kiski Valley police department where police chiefs regularly do patrol duties. Others include Arnold, Leechburg and Upper Burrell.
Mayberry has been Fawn’s police chief since 2006. He said he works at least 40 hours a week “if not a lot more dependent upon the circumstances.”
Lazaron, the part-timer, can work up to 32 hours a week.
Only one officer is on duty at a time and the department is not manned around the clock. When neither officer is working, the township relies on coverage from state police in Kittanning, Mayberry said.
Mayberry said having only one officer on duty is one of his department’s biggest challenges because that officer is responsible for everything.
But, he added, he’s gotten used to it.
“We’ve always had one officer on at a time. It is what it is,” Mayberry said. “If we had the amount of activity as other places, then there would be a need to add more officers.”
The department responds to over 500 calls a year, including emergency medical service and stray dog calls.
When incidents require more than one officer to respond, Fawn can request backup from neighboring departments such as Tarentum or Harrison.
It used to provide around-the-clock police coverage, but that ended when it became too expensive to maintain.
“We were having issues with arbitration. The bargaining unit keeps wanting more and more and the township doesn’t have it,” Mayberry said.
Another challenge the department is facing is keeping part-time officers, who tend to work at multiple police departments.
“We’ve gotten a lot of applicants over the years, and I’ve hired a number of them, and they don’t normally want to stay too long if they have another opportunity to go somewhere else for more money and more experience,” Mayberry said. “They may stay a couple months and then they’re gone.”
The department may be small, but Mayberry said the residents and township supervisors want their local police.
“It’s something we always strive for, to keep our police department,” Mayberry said. “A lot of residents will say the state police are up in Kittanning, they’re far away. Their response time isn’t as good as a local officer. The community as a whole wants the police department and the board of supervisors is committed to that.”
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected] or via Twitter .