South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By David Assad
Contributing Writer 

Those at Zone 3 meeting hear crime is down across district


March 25, 2008

For the second time in a row, the turn-out was light for the Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting when the organization held its monthly meeting at Banksville Park March 19.

The scheduled guest speaker, City Fire Chief Darryl E. Jones, was also unable to attend although a handful of other administrators in the department did make an appearance.

Zone 3 Police Commander Larry Ross made his regular appearance at the meeting to discuss the latest crime trends in the zone which has been reduced since the first of the year with the re-opening of the police zone headquarters in the West End.

Zone 3 Public Safety Council President Ken Wolfe was disappointed with the relatively small turnout for the meeting which was about half of the 40 to 50 attendees the meeting had been drawing every month recently until last month, a month after a discussion of whether the community leaders from the neighborhoods west of Rt. 51 south were welcome at the meetings.

Ironically, some of those leaders who have missed the two most recent meetings were from neighborhoods always patrolled by Zone 3 officers. Neighborhoods which always had representation at the meeting such as Arlington, Allentown and Mount Washington, were not as well rep-

resented at last week's meeting which is cause for alarm, according to Mr. Wolfe.

Nevertheless, the meeting took place as scheduled with much of the discussion centering on activities in the South Side Flats which had several representatives at the meeting

South Side community activist Susan McCoy voiced her complaints to the fire officials about two types of illegal hazardous situations that are rarely enforced. One of them concerns the shooting of fireworks and the other deals with outdoor cooking and burning in general.

Ms. McCoy said a bar on Carson Street notorious for drawing large unruly crowds, shot fireworks from its roof on New Year's Eve that resulted in quite a bit of debris spread throughout the immediate neighborhood. Much of that debris had to be cleaned up by residents once it was daylight.

She questioned why this illegal activity would be permitted with no consequences if the bar has three special-detail police officers on duty.

There should be no reason to call 911 to report the illegal fireworks with three law enforcement officers on duty on the premises, according to Ms. McCoy.

Ironically, she had a “letter-to-the editor” published on March 21 in a local daily newspaper thanking “Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus, Public Safety Director Mike Huss, police Chief Nate Harper, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforcement and all the officers who worked long hours to keep our neighborhood safe during the St Patrick's Day celebration.”

Commander Ross said that fireworks that are shot in the backyards of private properties are often overlooked due to a shortage of personnel. Often times, when fireworks are shot, such as during the July 4th celebration, the city has its extra manpower working the official fireworks show that takes place at Point State Park in order to control the huge throng of people who gather there as well as on Mount Washington's Grandview Ave.

“Sometimes we have to overlook backyard [fireworks shows] because we're looking at the bigger picture,” Commander Ross said. “And a lot of times, the people [with the illegal fireworks] plead ignorance [of the law when they are cited]…I know from my standpoint, it's hard to sit back and see people get away with things.”

Ms. McCoy also told the fire officials about bars in the South Side which attract as many as 100 to 150 patrons at once when they have an occupancy capacity of 35 to 50.

Commander Ross said there was a crackdown to cite businesses which exceed their occupancy capacity and he may look into doing that again if it is becoming a big problem.

Commander Ross said that there has been a six percent decrease in reported crime in Zone 3 for the first two months of 2008 compared to the first two months of 2007. He also noted the police are in the process of catching a suspect who has been snatching purses on Brownsville Road between the 1700 and 2200 blocks.

He noted that a rash of car break-ins on the South Side Flats, mainly on 12th, 22nd and 27th streets is also in the process of being solved.

The commander mentioned that all of the DUI arrests that occurred regarding the St. Patrick's Day celebrations (on Saturday, March 15) from the South Side bar scene were persons from the suburbs and not city residents.


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