Mayor Ravenstahl set to begin new public safety initiative
In an effort to address the recent wave of violence sweeping the city, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Chief of Police Nate Harper announced the launch of several new initiatives to go head to head with crime.
“The Chief and I have had enough,” said Mayor Ravenstahl. “We're tired of the shootings and we know the community is too. It's time to take back our Neighborhoods. Our community - religious and political leaders, educational institutions, neighborhood organizations, business owners and the citizens of Pittsburgh - must all rise up together and say ‘No more. Not in our streets. Not in our backyards.'”
The mayor's plan includes eight initiatives:
• Beat Cops
• Adopt A Block
• Anonymous Tip Line: 311
• Anti-Crime Cabinet
• Surveillance Cameras
• Faith-Based Initiative Breakfast
• Beat Cops – Beginning last week, the city will introduce Beat Cops. The officers assigned to foot patrol will make daily contact with business owners, document activities and conduct regular follow-ups. K9 Officers will also participate in these patrols. The Beat Officers will now carry pagers so that business owners may contact them. In addition, the bureau is increasing bike officer patrols, which will now include parking garages and lots.
“The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police realizes the importance of foot patrols in neighborhoods, especially neighborhood business districts,” said the mayor. “This increased police visibility is designed to complement the ongoing park and walks.
”This neighborhood business district initiative is in response to information gathered by the Police department and input provided by the community. I am 100 percent committed to providing the resources to make this happen.”
Added Chief Harper, “In addition, we will beef up our police presence in high crime areas and saturate the neighborhoods with bike patrol. In order to stop the cycle of violence, we must eliminate the target.”
• CitizenObserver – Already up and running, this program is a secure, easy to use Web based alert system that allows law enforcement agencies to quickly enter content about crimes or incidents, and within seconds push that information out to businesses, citizens, watch groups, and others that have signed up to receive those alerts.
• Adopt A Block - A faith-based initiative, in which a church community adopts and patrols the area around the perimeter of their places of worship, and works to enhance, beautify, and make it safe.
“The CitizenObserver program, currently operating in Zone One, will be expanded city-wide within the next few weeks, and we are working diligently to strengthen the Adopt a Block program,” said the Chief.
• C-TIPS (Community's Technical Investigative and Preparedness Section) – Currently up and running, C-TIPS provides a critical link between community groups/business districts and the Police Department.
• Anonymous Tip Line: 311 – the Mayor's Response Line, 311, is now able to answer and streamline anonymous tips to the Police department.
“In order for these initiatives to be successful, the community must get involved,” said Mayor Ravenstahl. “We encourage anyone witnessing criminal activity to report it by calling the anonymous tip line - 311.”
• Anti-Crime Cabinet - The mayor also announced that in the very near future, he will be convening public safety experts, community and religious leaders and other groups and individuals with a special interest in eliminating crime to form an Anti-Crime Cabinet.
“There is a lot of good work being done out there, but we need to speak with a unified voice and avoid duplication of efforts,” said Mr. Ravenstahl. “Our goal is to pull everyone in under one umbrella, and utilize best practices.”
• Surveillance Cameras - The mayor also indicated that in the next few weeks his administration will consider the best way to employ the use of surveillance cameras in high crime areas – a successful crime fighting tool currently used by many cities throughout the country and abroad. During the mayor's recent trip to Chicago, he spent time reviewing the surveillance system there.
In the seven months since installing the cameras, calls for service relating to narcotics reduced by 76 percent in the immediate area of where the pods were used. Additionally, serious crime fell 17 percent and “quality of life” criminal incidents fell 46 percent.
“We are looking at what is working in other cities and will apply those best practices to our community.”
• Faith-based Initiative Breakfast - Also in the works is a breakfast to convene local ministers to design a comprehensive faith-based community initiative.
“There are many ideas we are discussing, but to be successful, we must all join forces,” said the mayor. “We will not let crime control our communities. This is a call to action. We are all in this together.”