The Moon Township Police Department will now offer a child safety seat lending program for families in need of secure, properly installed seats.
Police Chief Leo McCarthy said the department received a shipment of 126 child safety seats through a grant awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Any parent or mother can show up here if they can't afford a seat and we'll put the seat in," McCarthy said. "This isn't a seat giveaway. When they're done with the seat, when the child outgrows it, they can return it, and we'll clean it and hopefully lend it out again."
McCarthy, who estimates the shipment of child safety seats is valued at more than $7,000, said seats in the department's inventory range from rear-facing infant seats to combination toddler seats.
"This is a new twist on something we've been doing for a while," McCarthy said of the program.
Five officers in the department are trained as child safety seat technicians, who are able to inspect and install the seats for members of the public.
The safety seat program dates back to 2001, when McCarthy said the seats were purchased using drug forfeiture money. Police would replace defective or recalled seats brought to the station, he said.
"More than 90 percent of the seats we see are not installed correctly," McCarthy said. "And I don't blame the parent—it's not easy to install those seats. But car accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 4 and 8."
McCarthy advises residents to call the police dispatch line at 412.262.5000 to arrange an appointment with a seat technician or inquire about the seat lending program.
Residency isn't a requirement to take part in the program, McCarthy said.
"Being near an international airport, we get people from all over," he said. "They could be from Ohio, West Virginia, Cranberry, Neville Island. We've had people from Africa and England. And when they come in, we'll help anyone."