South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

Want better police service on the Hilltop? Call 9-1-1


February 5, 2008

"Call, call, call, call."

Liz Style, New Site Development for the Mayor's Office, made that comment at the January 31 meeting of the Allentown Community Development Corporation when she was advising neighborhood residents to call 911 to report crimes.

She was reinforcing comments made by Zone 3 Police Commander Larry Ross, another guest speaker that night.

He said there were 13 such calls made in Allentown during December. Crimes reported included two stolen cars, three strong-arm robberies, two aggravated assaults and six retail thefts.

"I want to push home this point," Mr. Ross said. "We know there's more activity. We need more crime statistics to be able to get more help, to go to the federal government to get more police officers."

He added that the citizens reporting should be as descriptive as possible. "If two guys are beating each other up, say that. Don't say there's a disturbance." He said the 911 Center prioritizes the calls and "a disturbance call would be pushed down the list."

"There's real crime on the Hilltop," Judy Hackel, ACDC president, said. "People just don't call the police any more. They accept the quality of life deteriorating." She said her friends on the South Side, who report crime more often, "realize what it takes to get more services."

One lady in the audience joked that it was all her fault that there weren't that many calls. "I was away for two weeks."

Mr. Ross said he wanted to ease residents' minds regarding the shift of police officers over to the West End police station. "We still have enough guys to get up here," he said.

Mrs. Hackel's husband Joe asked the commander about what he described as "moveable crime," such as a drug deal quickly transacted between two cars that quickly relocate. Mr. Ross told him to report a description anyway. "There may be a police car just around the corner." He said he knew officers "who would love to grab those guys."

Mrs. Hackel and Mr. Ross encouraged attendance by residents at the Zone 3 Public Safety Meetings, held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesdays at the Banksville Park Shelter House. Subjects of discussion could include gang awareness, citizen police academies and citizen patrols. "Whatever you need, let me know," he said.

Ms. Style talked about the South Pittsburgh Hilltop Steering Committee, which meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesdays in the basement of St. John Vianney Parish Center, 823 Climax Street (the same meeting place for ACDC). The group hopes to bring Hilltop residents together from 10 neighborhoods to discuss crime and other issues and to apply for Weed and Seed grant money "to weed out crime."

A resident told her about problems with a vacant home on Manton Way with an excess of garbage, glass and furniture on the street. He said he and two other residents have reported it to the mayor's 311 hotline a total of 24 times but nothing has been done. He said he had 30 visitors at Christmas and 14 asked about the vacant house. Ms. Style said she would investigate the matter for him and that there might be some impending action that he was unaware of.

Ms. Style distributed handouts about the Pittsburgh Promise, which makes scholarship money available for qualifying seniors graduating from the Pittsburgh Public Schools. One requirement is a 2.0 QPA for the class of 2008. The requirement for the class of 2009 will be a 2.5 QPA.

Students can find out more about the Pittsburgh Promise by asking at their high school or checking out the website: Another handout from Ms. Style concerned an event 7:30 to 11 p.m. Feb. 14 at Schenley Park Ice Rink, with two- for-one admission, called Valentines on Ice. For more information, call 412 255-2493.

Mrs. Hackel said the ACDC has been awarded two grants. One, a 2008 planning year grant, from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, is for $5,000 to hire a consultant to make preparations to enter the Mainstreets Pittsburgh program. The other, a $5,000 service grant, from the Forbes Fund in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, is to help the group work with other Hilltop organizations and to hire a consultant to identify and to advise on cooperation in solving problems on the Hilltop.

She announced guest speakers for coming ACDC meetings: District Magisterial Judge Richard King on Feb. 28 and State Rep. Jake Wheatley on Mar. 27.

"I have become friends with the speakers," she said.

She said she spent much of her time trying to improve Allentown. "I have a passion for this neighborhood," Mrs. Hackel said.


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