The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

September 19, 2013

Township supervisors question Southwest patrol policies

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP —

The road crew worked in the eastern part of town, on Mercer-West Middlesex Road, Denaman Drive, Executive Court, and Stinedurf, Hewitt, Romain and Bobish roads, Garrett said.

“We never saw an officer the entire three days,” he told the police commission Tuesday. He asked Police Chief Riley Smoot Jr. about the apparent lack of patrols in the township.

“I wish you had called me when it happened,” Smoot responded. Two weeks after the fact was too late for him to know what the police were up to those days, the chief said.

“I can’t sit here and say why you didn’t see us,” Smoot said.

He said he knows he was out early in the morning those days driving township roads, and that his zone patrolman assigned to Shenango is not allowed the leave the zone except under specific circumstances.

"I ride those roads every day,” the chief said.

Farrell Councilman Robert Burich said he has only seen a cruiser pass his house once in the last month, but that he doesn’t assume it’s because police are not patrolling. He said he doesn’t spend his time looking out the window just so he can see a cruiser.

Shenango Supervisor Carol Budanka followed with a question about police presence on Hogue Road, a dead end street south of Hubbard-West Middlesex Road, west of West Middlesex.

She said the township building is getting calls about suspicious cars on Hogue, but police are not responding.

Smoot answered that no one is calling 911 so that police can respond. The township building is not a dispatch center for the police department, he said.

Residents might believe that the presence of suspicious cars is not an emergency so they are not calling 911, but he said suspicious activity is reason enough to call 911 and ask for a police response.

He said a car on Hogue is not necessarily suspicious to a policeman. The police donÕt know what vehicles residents drive, so they don’t know which vehicles belong and which don’t.

“They have to help us out,” Smoot said. “If you don’t call, you can’t expect us to know.”

When people call, good things can happen, he said, referring to the Sept. 9 report of suspicious activity on Jackson Road that led to an arrest of two people on burglary charges.

The woman arrested, Tracy L. Hassel, was wanted on a warrant for skipping sentence court, and the car she and Steven T. Mortland were in contained items that had just been stolen from a Jackson Road home, and an item that been stolen in a Hermitage break-in.

Southwest and Hermitage each have charged Hassel and Mortland, and Smoot said he believes his department can tie them to other burglaries. He said he believes Hermitage and state police also are investigating them for other incidents.