April 29, 2014 | Vol. 74 No. 41

Mayor addresses 200 at his first citywide public safety meeting

An April 22 city-wide public safety meeting in the Teamsters Hall in Lawrenceville drew nearly 200 attendees.

Guest speaker Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto called it the largest crowd he ever saw at a public safety meeting.

In addition to residents, those in attendance represented city departments including the administration, council, police, fire, public safety, emergency management and others.

In his remarks, the mayor delivered his 100-day update of his administration.

Among the highlights:

The rebuilding of the public safety department, and ensuring all operations are being done in the most effective manner, has begun.

While there are 890 police officers today, there will be 900 uniformed officers by year’s end.

The administration will be more pro-active in recruiting black women officers.

Eight paramedics have been added, and 28 new firefighters are in the process of being hired.

Five new bike officers will begin this spring. The Graffiti Task Force has been reinstituted.

The Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI) has a new chief, and inspections have been beefed up. Inspectors will use more hand-held devices to cut back on paperwork.

“We need you to prioritize in each neighborhood the most egregious structures,” Mr. Peduto said.

As federal funding for the Weed and Seed program has ended, the new SaferTogether Pittsburgh is its replacement. It will be handled by Liz Style and another person yet to be named, he said.

Ms. Style followed the mayor’s remarks.

She described SaferTogether Pittsburgh in the Dept. of Public Safety as “a collaborative strategy for community safety.”

To that end, she wants to coordinate and help strengthen activities like block watches, public safety zone meetings, and more. A block watch tool kit is available, containing all the information one needs to start or strengthen a block watch.

Neighborhood Watch signs are also available at no charge for posting. The signs are graffiti and water proof.

Upcoming events aimed at enhancing public safety include: Moms and Cops one-day seminar on May 7; Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training beginning June 4; National Night Out on Aug. 5; Citizen’s Police Academy beginning in the fall; and more.

Next, after introducing the command staff, Acting Chief of Police Regina McDonald spoke on popular reinstitutions: beat patrols in neighborhood business districts, and the Graffiti Task Force.

The beat patrols will work in shifts of noon to 4 p.m., and 4 to 8 p.m.

The Graffiti Task Force, which is now called the Graffiti Unit, will investigate graffiti vandalism and assist in prosecutions. To that end, cameras will be purchased for the unit to photograph the graffiti.

The acting chief said the department is working on a plan, strategy, and process for dealing with graffiti.

To aid in the effort, residents are asked to report instances of graffiti.

In his brief comments, Zone 2 Commander Eric Holmes said “we, the police, could not do our job without the community’s support.”

He said the public is the department’s “eyes and ears.”

Public safety Director Michael Huss reiterated the same theme in stating, “We cannot be successful without your support.”

In his presentation, Raymond V. DeMichiei, deputy director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said among the volunteer opportunities is to be a member of the Pittsburgh CERT.

The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills like fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

CERT team training provides team members with classroom and hands-on training in real-world emergency response procedures.

CERT training runs eight to 12 weeks, and begins on June 4. Act 33 background checks will be performed on all volunteers.

For their service, volunteers receive workmen’s compensation, money for medical expenses, death benefit, and more.

To register, visit: www.pittsburghpa.gov/ema , or call 412-255-2633.

The next brief speaker was Jay Gilmer, coordinator, Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime (PIRC), Dept. of Public Safety. PIRC is a homicide deterrence strategy aimed at reducing gang/group related homicides.

Mr. Gilmer said PIRC fills a gap outside what social services can do. A current program is getting ex-offenders together to form support groups.

The PIRC hotline is 412-255-2374.

Next, Deborah Walker, the new manager of the Office of Municipal Investigations, said to call 412-255-2804 or email to file a complaint against a city employee. The office is located at 2608 Penn Ave.

In his brief presentation on the Citizen’s Police Academy, Sgt. Eric Kroll said the fall session begins on Sept. 9 at police headquarters at 1203 Western Ave. Classes meet for three hours Tuesday evenings for 15 weeks.

The academy offers a behind-the-scenes look at what police do, like how fingerprints are taken.

Participants are also taught the basics of criminal law, search and seizure, patrol tactics, firearms, and more.

For more information, call 412-665-3600, or email eric.kroll@pittsburghpa.gov.

In conclusion, Assistant Police Chief Maurita Bryant said among the upcoming activities she is excited about are the Cops and Kids summer camp, and the Moms and Cops seminar.

The free week-long Cops and Kids summer camp is for city residents ages 10 to 14. It will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on July 7-11, July 14-18, and July 28-Aug. 1. Food will be provided.

The focus will be on education and leadership.

The Moms and Cops one-day training seminar will address violence against women and children.

It will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 7 at the Theological Seminary, 616 N. Highland Ave.

There is no fee, and breakfast and lunch will be provided.

For more information on Cops and Kids and on Moms and Cops, call 412-323-7821.

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