It’s official: Jason Schaeffer is Leechburg’s new police chief
A police chief is only as good as the community that stands behind him.
That’s what Leechburg’s new highest ranking officer says.
“People that are willing to report things and talk to the police … I think that’s a really good thing for the community,” police Chief Jason Schaeffer said Wednesday.
A veteran Leechburg police officer who oversaw the department while former police Chief Mike Diebold faced a criminal trial, Schaeffer, 45, of Buffalo Township, was appointed chief on Tuesday at a salary of $51,044.
The council vote was unanimous, Mayor Wayne Dobos said.
“Everybody was thrilled to hear it, particularly me. I’ve been waiting for this,” Dobos said Wednesday. “We were trying to get some other things straightened out and said, ‘Now, it’s time.’
“He has all the qualities that you need to be a chief.”
Schaeffer has worked for the borough for about 20 years, starting out as a part-time officer.
He was appointed officer-in-charge at the beginning of 2018 after Diebold was arrested and suspended from the force over allegations that he was attempting to solicit underage sex via the internet. Diebold actually was communicating with an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old girl.
Schaeffer said Diebold’s arrest shattered the trust between the community and the police department. People would call the station to tell the officers they should be fired and they were no good.
“It was tough,” he said.
He said communication, not just with community members but with his fellow officers, has been important in regaining that trust. He wants the community to know the police are there for them.
“I’ve always been open with people — people can come in and talk to me, they can trust me. If they want to remain anonymous or confidential, I don’t repeat their name,” Schaeffer said. “It’s just building trust with the community — I’ve always had it and it’s getting better.”
Dobos said Schaeffer has managed to bring back some of the community’s trust in police.
He said Schaeffer is well-liked by residents, and is dedicated, honest, and a good communicator.
“There’s nothing bad I could say about him,” Dobos said.
In addition to a new chief, the department will be getting new, navy blue uniforms.
Also in the works are a new evidence room for the department, and the hiring of an additional officer. The borough is in the process of starting up a new Civil Service Commission to do that.
For now, the department has two full-time officers, Schaeffer and Patrolman Mark Pollick, and five part-time officers. The full compliment is three full-time officers.
Schaeffer is a graduate of Ford City High School and the municipal police academy at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
He also has worked as a police officer for Bethel Township and Edinboro University, but ultimately chose to stay in Leechburg because he likes the community.
“This was pretty much one of my first jobs. It was close to family. I know a lot of the residents here in town,” he said. “It’s just knowing the town, and knowing the people that live here.”
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected] or via Twitter .