Chief's Corner

John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police

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Dec 05

Special assignments enhance growing police department

Posted on December 5, 2022 at 12:00 PM by Andrea Iglar

I have been very fortunate to serve as your chief of police during the past eight years, during which time the South Fayette Township Police Department has grown by leap and bounds.

We have hired 11 new officers since 2014, bringing the total number of officers to 23—a direct result of our elected Board of Commissioners recognizing the need to enhance public safety to serve our increasing population and business community.

By expanding the police to numbers that reflect the growth of South Fayette, the department has been able to create specialized assignments for officers to better protect and serve our residents.

With growth comes an increase in traffic, so we recently assigned two full-time officers to enforce traffic laws in areas deemed to be problematic. This unit’s visibility will help keep motorists safer on township roadways.

Another specialized unit is investigations. Two full-time officers serve as investigators, following up on incidents and helping solve crimes.

An officer is assigned to serve as the School Resource Officer in the South Fayette School District during each school year, while our bloodhound, Ellie Faye, always is on call and ready to assist with searches and attend community events.

Four squads of four officers patrol neighborhoods 24 hours, 7 seven days a week and handle calls for service. In addition, officers within each squad are trained in numerous specialized areas. Just two of the many examples are bike patrol and Project Lifesaver, which tracks participating people who may become lost due to a cognitive condition.

These specialized assignments show how committed our officers are to protecting and serving our township.

As a 32-year resident of South Fayette, I am truly proud of how far we have come as a police department and as a community.


John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township

Nov 23

How police address traffic complaints

Posted on November 23, 2021 at 8:47 AM by Andrea Iglar

As the community of South Fayette grows, traffic volume inevitably increases, resulting in more emergency and service calls.

Citizen complaints regarding speeding and aggressive driving have increased substantially over the past year. As hard as we try, police officers cannot be everywhere all the time to monitor these traffic issues, so we try to prioritize.

One way we prioritize complaint areas is by using the electronic speed signs that you have seen throughout the township. The equipment gathers data about vehicle speeds and the volume of traffic per hour, and then we use a formula to find the speed-limit compliance rate for that particular area. Based on the compliance rate, we prioritize the areas that have the lowest compliance rate—in other words, officers focus on monitoring the areas with the most frequent or severe problems.

To further address traffic needs, I am planning to dedicate one or two police officers to dealing with traffic in our problem areas. They will handle traffic complaints and associated enforcement issues seven days a week. This will allow our department to address traffic complaints more efficiently and thoroughly, providing better service and protection to our residents and visitors. 

In communities such as South Fayette Township, which has been voted multiple times as one of the safest communities in Pennsylvania, traffic issues can become the main focus for residents. Our job as officers is to make sure we provide the best possible service and protection in all areas, traffic-related and otherwise. Our officers respond to everything—domestic disputes, arrests, accidents and many other types of calls—24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

As always, every decision I make as the chief of police is made with the intention of providing the best possible service to the South Fayette community.


John R. Phoennik
Chief of Police
South Fayette Township

Mar 29

I-79 tolls would burden community

Posted on March 29, 2021 at 10:37 AM by Andrea Iglar

As Chief of Police and a 30-year resident of South Fayette Township, I feel compelled to reach out to the community to share my thoughts regarding the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s proposed toll on Interstate 79.

My top priority is to protect the safety and interests of our citizens, and I do not believe the toll is in the community’s best interest.

Professionally and personally, I have many concerns about the proposed toll, which would fund a project at the Bridgeville/South Fayette interchange that could start as soon as 2023.

A toll would significantly increase traffic in an area that already is heavily congested. Our police department, township staff and elected township commissioners have worked tirelessly to alleviate and improve existing traffic problems within the I-79/Washington Pike corridor, while also working to increase and support commercial and residential growth.

The toll would cause many motorists to exit the highway seeking alternate routes to avoid the toll, worsening congestion, impacting safety and causing additional wear-and-tear on our local roads.

Additionally, a toll would place an unfair burden on local taxpayers, forcing local residents, businesses and employees to pay more than their fair share for access to a highway area traversed by at least 87,000 vehicles a day—12 percent of them trucks.

Charging a toll also could discourage businesses and residents who are looking to move here, despite the great schools, parks, neighborhoods and other community amenities.

PennDOT has chosen nine locations throughout the state to place tolls. The I-79 Bridgeville/South Fayette location is the only toll proposed in Allegheny County and the only toll on the entire length of I-79. Why was our community chosen to shoulder this additional cost? Is it because South Fayette Township is one of the fastest growing areas in the state? Is it because this area has had an uptick in vehicular traffic and would therefore generate more revenue?

We must think about these serious questions and demand answers.

The time for residents to speak out is now.

Here’s how to share your opinion with PennDOT about the proposed I-79 toll:
  • Website (scroll to bottom of page for feedback form)
  • Email
  • Phone:412-297-4088
  • Mail: I-79 Widening, Bridges and Bridgeville Interchange Reconfiguration Project, 301 Grant St Floor 17, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

John R. Phoennik