Micklos retires as Ohio Township chief

Ohio Township Police Chief Norbert “Beaver” Micklos is retiring after 20 years of heading the local department. Micklos is pictured at right with the new OTPD chief, Joe Hanny, who has served as a deective and officer with the department for nearly as many years. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

From back when Norbert Micklos's family moved to Ohio Township in 1957 to the present as he enters retirement, the community has undergone some radical changes.

The somewhat remote Pittsburgh suburb of a few clusters of houses along with some rolling farmland has transformed to upscale housing developments, shopping areas, and a population that now tops 6,000 residents, all linked to the City via I-279.

And just as the community has grown, the responsibilities of the chief of police and his staff of officers also have grown in the community which they serve.

"The Chief," of course, has been Micklos, who this week wraps up the position he has held for the past 20 years, turning over the office to Det. Joseph Hanny of the Township Police Department.

The Micklos family moved to O.T., as the area is frequently referred to, in 1957, when the chief’s father started working for the township. Growing up in the area was almost a Mayberry experience for him, possibly accounting for the nickname that has stuck with Micklos since birth: Beaver -- or just "Beave," as he is known to his friends -- dates to the television series "Leave It to Beaver," which debuted in 1957, the same year that Micklos was born.

While growing up, the name became a trademark, of sorts, with friends and teachers and coaches using it more often than his birth name.

One of those coaches, Robert Taylor, recalls Beaver both as his student as well an athlete on the baseball team that he coached.

"When Beaver came out for the Avonworth baseball team, he was a catcher," Taylor said. "I thought he could better utilize his strong arm and good speed in the outfield. The change was made, and this was where he starred. In 1974, his senior season, the team won the Section 17 championship and went on to the WPIAL playoffs."

Move ahead several years, and Beaver, still super-competitive and loving the game, began to play in the Northern Allegheny County Senior Softball League. "He immediately established himself as an all-star outfielder and one of the leading homerun sluggers in the Silver Division. Coincidently, he re-met his old high school coach, who no longer plays but is now umpiring some of his games," Taylor said.

But back to Chief Micklos, who explained how his career began.

"My first stint in law enforcement was as a Deputy Game Protector with the PA Game Commission in 1979. Then I worked with the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department from 1984 to 1998 before moving on to Ohio Township in 1998."

He said that he had the normal law enforcement training at the Allegheny County Police Academy, and he attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA in 1993.

Formal training does not cover all of the demands of his job, however.

Asked what he considers to be the most difficult problem he has to face, he answered without hesitation, "I think the toughest aspect of my job is telling a loved one that someone close to them has died."

He also believes that much of what the public once took care of at home has become the responsibility of the police. He said that more than in the past, the family unit sometimes is not as strong as it used to be. Add to that the growing misuse of social media, and he has had to deal with problems never imagined when he started his career.

One of the greatest pleasures of his job, though, is having the opportunity to give someone a start to a career in law enforcement. And in recent years, such opportunities have expanded, along with the Ohio Township police coverage area that now extends to Aleppo Township, Ben Avon Borough, Ben Avon Heights, Emsworth Borough, Kilbuck Township, Neville Island Township and Sewickley Hills Borough.

Micklos has made plans for his well deserved retirement years.

"I currently hold a U.S. Coast Guard captain's license, and I plan on doing some charter fishing on Lake Erie in the summer and the Gulf of Mexico in the winter."

For sure, wife Grace will be with him, just as she has been with him through his chief years.

"We're proud of what we've done collectively for the community," Micklos said.

In addition to missing his familiar presence in the township will be the absence of his familiar presence on television news when the chief was often interviewed on both good and not-so-good happenings in O. T.

"I learned early on to be familiar with the subject and to talk in common sense words and terminology. You are speaking to the public, not for other police."