It’s only been a few weeks since Kevin Harris became the new chief of police for the City of Monongahela, but he is already starting to lay out his plans for the future of the department.
“We have a great foundation, and I want to build on our success so we can continue to provide the very best service for the residents of our community,” said Harris, a former officer in Brownsville in Fayette County and California in Washington County. “I already have a lot of ideas, but I know it’s easy to sometimes get ahead of yourself. When you are new, it’s important to move forward with changes gradually. But we will eventually get there.”
Harris believes the addition of new technologies can help the department operate more efficiently and affordably. In the near future, Monongahela’s officers will start wearing body cameras to record encounters with the public and they will be using TraCS software in their police vehicles to issue electronic citations, as well as document warnings, commercial vehicle inspection reports and crashes.
“We want to be as automated as possible,” said Harris. “It makes our jobs easier and helps us to keep pace with this rapidly changing world.”
Even though he wants to see Monongahela adopt a more technology-driven approach to policing, he doesn’t forget about the human side of law enforcement.
“Relationships on the street will always be important for our department,” he said. “Monongahela is fortunate to have citizens who take pride in our city. They serve as an extra set of eyes for our department and let us know when there’s a problem somewhere. We want to keep that relationship going strong.”
Appointed chief May 1, Harris oversees a department that provides coverage for the city, New Eagle and Finleyville. He credits former chief Brian Tempest for helping him to make a smooth transition into his new position.
“Brian was a great role model,” said Harris. “He took time to explain all the processes involved with this job. Above all, he demonstrated how a police chief should interact with the rest of the department. Brian said that if you treat the other officers fairly, they will respond in kind. We are fortunate to have a great team of officers in Monongahela. That makes my job a lot easier.”
A native of Jefferson Hills, Harris was trained at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s police academy, and began his career in law enforcement in 2005. He served as an officer for two years in Brownsville and California before joining Monongahela’s department in 2007.
Harris has also worked on various drug task forces in Washington and Fayette counties. He became a union steward in 2009 and was appointed to Monongahela’s police pension board in 2012.
“All those experiences made me a well-rounded police officer,” Harris said. “I learned about the ins and out of this business, which is serving me well in my new position.”
Becoming the chief means wearing many different hats, Harris pointed out, but he is ready for any challenges that may come his way.
“One of my biggest adjustments is taking care of all the administrative paperwork,” he said. “At Monongahela, our ranking officers are more than just administrators: they are also handling calls and patrolling the streets. Sometimes it’s a challenge balancing all those duties, but it also gives me a nice change of pace.”
Harris said he expects his new role will mean more hours on the job; however, he still finds time to spend time with his family and manages to keep active on the athletic field.
“My wife is very supportive,” he said. “She understands that this job is very busy, but she takes it in stride. That means a lot to me. Besides spending free time with my wife and young son, I look forward to participating in Spartan Races and playing a little soccer with the Greater Pittsburgh Sports League. It’s a great way to unwind and stay in shape. It’s a busy life but I’m enjoying everything that I am doing.”