Topics ranged from Halloween to Thanksgiving -- interspersed with news of day-to-day crime-related issues -- at the Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting on Sept. 18.
The evening began with the announcement the council will be hosting the next city-wide public safety meeting at the old South Hills High School on either Oct. 16 or Oct. 23. Potential topics include fall-related themes like trick-or-treat, and a new pedestrian traffic study.
Ken Wolfe, public safety council president, asked attendees to let him know any topic suggestions they have.
In other city news, Halloween will be celebrated in the city from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.
A hard-to-recycle collection will be held at The Mall at Robinson from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 5. Materials accepted free of charge include two televisions (fee for additional TVs); computers and peripheral equipment; ink and toner cartridges; small appliances; and more.
Visit www.zerowastepgh.org for more information.
Next, crime prevention Officer Christine Luffey said she is preparing for her sixth year of organizing the delivery of free, warm meals on Thanksgiving Day in the Zone 3 and Zone 6 communities.
The purpose of the “Get Stuffed With Love” program is to ensure no residents of South Side and the surrounding communities go without Thanksgiving dinner. The program teams with the South Side Rotary Club.
There are no income or age requirements. One year, 2,000 dinners were delivered.
Volunteers are needed to prepare and package food.
Residents requesting the free meals should call Officer Luffey at 412-488-8425 and leave their name, phone number, and number of dinners.
“We’ll feed a family,” Officer Luffey said.
In crime news, Grandview Park was hit with vandalism the prior week: shattered bottles; a new railing torn off; and, orange spray painted graffiti.
Cameras will soon be installed in the park. Other crime-prevention tools being considered by residents are floodlights, and having police cruise through the area.
Justin Wasser, of the office of State Rep. Erin C. Molchany, reminded everyone the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will be implemented on Jan. 1.
Local enrollment fairs offering information will be held: Oct. 28, 4-7 p.m., Beechview Library; Nov. 7, 5-8 p.m., Brookline Library; Nov. 8, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Whitehall Library; and Nov. 12, 2-6 p.m., Mount Washington Library.
In an update of the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) and its role in Pittsburgh, city Councilman Bruce Kraus said he met with Councilman Bill Peduto and his mayoral transition team, and received this commitment: to extend the RHI contract to June, 2014; and, to house an Office of Nightlife Affairs initiative within the administration as a funded staff position.
“That is monumental,” he said of the latter.
The city hired RHI 18 months ago to contribute recommendations for managing hospitality zones throughout the city.
A recent innovation in dealing with the South Side bar saturation is the reorganization of police patrols.
Under the new system, off-duty officers who previously worked as security officers at South Side bars are teamed with on-duty officers to patrol East Carson St. and its parallel areas.
“The focus is on quality of life issues,” Mr. Kraus said.
One of its goals is to increase service in the Hilltop neighborhoods by freeing up officers, he said.
RHI founder and president Jim Peters, who was in attendance with project manager Alicia Lakomski, said the most important aspect of the project is to look at how to plan a district, and not become a police problem.
There are five strategies: transportation, public safety, hospitality practices, district management, and personal accountability.
Mr. Kraus said Chicago is using these strategies.
A Chicago sergeant he spoke with said officers are not allowed to be employed at liquor-licensed establishments. For the city’s 1000 alcohol establishments over five entertainment areas, only 35 officers are utilized.
East Carson St. alone has 35 officers on weekends.
Mr. Peters said the police on East Carson St. are perceived by bar owners as protecting the bars who pay them, and not the public. The hope is to change the system, he said.
In other crime news, a shooting in Grandview Park on Sept. 8 involved two teens in a turf dispute.
Zone 3 Commander Catherine McNeilly said while “this kind of stuff happened 80 years ago,” the difference today is the use of guns.
Shanon Williams, of CeaseFirePA, dedicated to reducing and preventing gun violence, said there is no reason for children to have weaponry like assault rifles.
CeaseFirePA is working in communities state-wide to build support for reforms to reduce gun violence.
Ms. Williams said most guns used in crimes are not legally possessed, but were either lost, stolen, or the result of “straw purchasing” in which people who pass criminal background checks buy guns for criminals who are legally prohibited from possessing them.
The next public safety meeting will be the city-wide meeting on either Oct. 16 or Oct. 23.