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New police chief Scott Schubert plans to keep things moving ahead

 

Zone 3 Public Safety Council president Ken Wolfe introduces new City of Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert at a "Meet the Chief" community meeting in Knoxville.

The Zone 3 Public Safety Council invited area residents to meet new Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert at a Feb. 22 meeting at Kingdom Life Fellowship Pittsburgh in Knoxville.

 "I love Pittsburgh. I love the Pittsburgh Police. I will do everything I can for the city and police," he said.

"I am very approachable.

"The only way we can fix things is to hear about it," he said.

Chief Schubert said, if questions, residents should contact him, and he will respond.

In a brief overview of his work history, he said he began his police career as a Coraopolis officer. In 1993, he joined the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

He was named acting chief in Nov., 2016, following the departure of former Chief Cameron McLay. In January, he was appointed chief.

Over the years, he served in various leadership roles within the bureau, including: Zone 4 acting commander, Zone 6 commander, and assistant chief of operations.

Chief Schubert said former chief McLay had a lot of great initiatives which will continue, regardless of who the president, mayor, or chief is. They include the group violence initiative; attending community meetings and reaching children in schools; and communicating via social media, like Facebook and Twitter.

"We will use as much as we can to tell our story," he said.

The former chief also brought in civilian analysts to help with data with a goal of ensuring officers have timely information, and which will continue.

City Council President Bruce Kraus thanked Chief Schubert for his commitment to Zone 3 while serving as acting chief prior to becoming chief.

He also recognized Commander Karen Dixon for her Zone 3 leadership.

"She has built wonderful relationships with the community," he said.

Mr. Kraus said Zone 3 has the highest call volume among all of the zones, yet traditionally low staffing.

"I'm very cognizant of manpower," Chief Schubert said. He said the challenge is responding to a high volume of calls on South Side while also providing service to the Hilltop communities.

"It is a no brainer to get more officers to the station," he said.

He called the city's Police Academy "second to none" as its level of advanced training is beyond what the state requires. The goal is to ensure officers have the training and whatever else they require.

"We need to do whatever we can to keep our officers safe," he said.

An attendee asked if the Pittsburgh police will get involved with the deportation of illegal immigrants, or is that for federal authorities to do.

Chief Schubert said the bureau has had an unwritten policy for 10 years of "unbiased policing" in which a person's status is only asked about during a criminal investigation or arrest.

"You don't want people afraid to call 911," he said.

To a question of whether the police department has considered not carrying guns, the chief responded "no."

"There's no way that could happen now," he said.

A Knoxville Community Council official thanked him, Commander Dixon, and Officer Christine Luffey for their neighborhood efforts.

While there are 90 communities in Pittsburgh, the chief said, "Knoxville is on my radar all the time."

An attendee said with officers visible in his neighborhood, and outreach occurring, residents are not afraid to call for help.

Chief Schubert said "serving others" is fundamental to what the department does.

To a question of what residents can do to help the police, Chief Schubert said to "be involved" by communicating with the police what is occurring in one's neighborhood, and by following Zone 3 on Facebook. Residents may also sign up for email crime updates.

In line with becoming involved, an attendee commented that there are four block watches on the South Side Flats, and that other Zone 3 residents are working hard to form block watches in their areas.

"It is not just looking out for bad people, but building communities," the attendee said.

A resident next commented on the need for park-and-walks. He said when an officer exits his patrol car and walks around the area it makes the criminal types nervous, but law abiders like it. He likes it because it might make criminals want to leave the neighborhood.

Chief Schubert said he and his team try identifying places to station officers. He is also big on traffic stops. Besides saving lives, say with drunk drivers or speeders, it makes the streets safer for everyone, and people see that.

To a question about the department's stance on abandoned cars, which the Hilltop has a lot of, the chief said each zone has an officer assigned to that problem. If a vehicle is abandoned on private property, it is more difficult to deal with. But call 311 in any case.

The final comment was a call to bring back the Officer Friendly program, a largely 1960s-1980s community relations campaign in which police officers visited classrooms.

Chief Schubert said he agrees with the concept. "It is something we are committed to," he said.

While many of the officers who participated in the Officer Friendly program are now retired, there is still a focus on schools as he will be sending three officers for training this summer for the DARE program.

DARE, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is a K-12 education program that seeks to prevent drug abuse, gang membership, and violent behavior.

The next Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the zone station on March 20.

 

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