South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

MAD DADS aim to make an impression with Hilltop youth

 


MAD DADS was a prime focus of the May 15 meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council. The meeting was conducted by group vice-president Liz Style in the absence of president Ken Wolfe.

The Greater Pittsburgh Area MAD DADS is a volunteer, nationally affiliated faith-based Christian, non-profit organization that prepares men to restore safe communities.

MAD DADS stands for Men Against Destruction – Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder. The group is comprised of community fathers whose mission is to maintain safer communities while impacting the issues of drugs, gangs, and violence.

MAD DADS develop and implement neighborhood street patrols and programs designed to maintain safer neighborhoods and communities.

Its signature program is neighborhood street patrol in which the volunteers target “hot spots” and go there to interact with youth who are at-risk, due largely to family dynamics, of getting into trouble.

“A lot of crimes are crimes of opportunity.

“The idea is to be there as a positive influence in the community,” MAD DAD founding member Jay Gilmer said.

Officer Nathan Auvil said there was vandalizing by juveniles of the recently renovated Knoxville branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on Brownsville Rd. About eight volunteers from the MAD DADS organization hung out on the corner with the goal of providing mentorship.

Resident Roy Blankenship said he reached out to MAD DADS to come to the Hilltop neighborhoods. He is himself a MAD DAD now, and said a lot of residents say “thank-you” for the work of the MAD DADS.

A South Hills chapter will be opening, for which men and women volunteers are needed. Mr. Gilmer said volunteers need not be tough or talkative. The group planned to be at Knoxville Library again on May 20 wearing bright green tee-shirts or vests.

“We will go anywhere you want us to be,” Mr. Gilmer said.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus, a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Board Member, thanked them for their work at the library.

“We don’t want to see people afraid to use the library because of the behavior of a few,” he said.

 In public safety news, he said the new 12th to 17th East Carson St. safety zone “is performing better than hoped.”

When public safety vehicles need to get by, motorists are supposed to pull into the pullover lane until the emergency vehicle passes.

But on Friday and Saturday evenings, it is solely a safety lane as congestion makes it difficult, if not impossible, for police and public safety vehicles to make quick passage if an emergency arises.

While there are meters, motorists may not park on the South Side of East Carson St. from 12th to 17th streets on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. It will likely be extended to 3 a.m., he said.

The four-week educational period in which violators received a warning ticket has passed. From now on, violators will be ticketed. Vehicles may be towed.

On another issue, he said legislation was introduced to prohibit animals in circuses in the city. He is working with humane organizations on the matter, and believes it will eventually have the support of council.

Another potential piece of legislation would prohibit roof parties. Mr. Kraus said there have been too many local stories lately of college students partying on roofs and falling to great injury or death. The legislation is currently undergoing review by the city law department.

The meeting began with Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon reporting that already this year, there have been 179 overdoses – 21 of them fatal – in Zone 3. The highest prevalence of overdoses occur, in order, in Carrick, Mt. Washington, and the South Side Flats. The ages range from 17 to 71.

For the problem of speeding motorcycles on Grandview Ave. in Mt. Washington, she was meeting with city officials that week about a solution.

In her comments, community relations Officer Christine Luffey said basketball hoops on city streets or property are not legal. A mediation was scheduled the next day about hoops on Copperfield Ave. in Carrick.

Commander Dixon said they like to resolve, not cite, as youngsters are outdoors playing. But they can’t be disruptive to the neighborhood, she said.

Next, Assistant Chief Anna Kudrav reported on a new community policing initiative in all the zones in which one officer will be designated to one neighborhood with specific concerns. It will differ from the community resource officer program in that it will be the officer’s full-time job.

“This is a new thing for us,” she said.

The officer will participate with community groups and more, and utilize best practices to solve problems. The officer will be trained and informed on city services. Its success depends on everyone working together, she said. To a question on whether the officer will work with block watches, she said there will be collaboration with every community stakeholder.

In upcoming events, state Rep. Jake Wheatley will host a health expo weekend on Aug. 18-20.

The agenda includes: a reception at the August Wilson Center on Aug. 18; a race in the Hill District on Aug. 19; and the health expo from 1 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the Warrington Recreation Center. The Hilltop event will include free screenings, giveaways, and job information.

All block watches are invited to participate in the annual “Communities Against Crime” block party. No date has yet been set.

OpenStreetsPGH will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 28.

This will be the third year for the event in which three miles of city streets will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for joggers, bicyclists, walkers, and skaters to use the streets for fun in a car-free environment.

Traffic car crossings will be along East Carson St. at S. 10th, S. 13th, and S. 18th streets, and at the Birmingham Bridge.

 

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