West Leechburg police chief retires after 32 years with department
West Leechburg police Chief George Lebetz has retired after more than three decades with the department, including the past four years as chief.
“It was a bunch of things, little things, that added up to a good career,” said Lebetz.
“Everything from helping different people, especially kids, and talking with kids. And putting some people into jail was a part of the job, too,” Lebetz added. “Just like all jobs. Some good days and some bad days.”
Among some of the more memorable incidents, Lebetz was a sergeant in 2007 when police found more than 500 marijuana plants in a man’s Third Avenue home.
“The stuff was in every room of the house except the bathroom,” Lebetz said at the time.
At a hearing, the suspect argued that the marijuana plants were for his personal use. That claim drew the attention of comedian Jay Leno, who joked about it on his late-night talk show. The suspect was ultimately sentenced to probation and a period of house arrest.
Last February, thieves took money, a handgun, credit cards and other items from 17 cars in the borough. Years before, a borough man set his home on fire and shot himself to death.
When New Kensington officer Brian Shaw was killed on the job in November 2017, West Leechburg officers were among those who worked New Kensington patrol shifts so the grieving officers could have some time off.
At 64, Lebetz is contending with prostate cancer. Last August, West Leechburg residents held a replenishment blood collection for him.
Police officers occasionally are forced to wrestle with suspects, and Lebetz said the prospect of having to do that is not good given his age and health.
Lebetz started as a patrolman with the department in 1987 and eventually served as a sergeant and then captain before he was appointed chief in 2015. He also was a police officer for Allegheny Ludlum, now ATI.
West Leechburg’s new chief is Pete King, who had been serving as West Leechburg’s captain, according to clerk Pat Grantz. King wasn’t available for comment Monday.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .