South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Crime prevention officer tells Arlington residents, ‘things have been rather quiet the last 30 days'


April 28, 2009

Crime prevention officer Christine Luffey kicked off the April 13 meeting of the 16th Ward Block Watch in Arlington with local crime statistics, such as seven criminal mischief, one harassment, one PFA (protection from abuse) order, and four drug arrests.

"It's been rather quiet the last 30 days," she said of Arlington crime. "This is really light."

Officer Luffey said she toured the new Zone 3 police station in Allentown and that it was "just gorgeous." A Grand Opening will be held in May.

"Change can be tough for people," she said, "but I know this is for the best."

Officer Luffey said the recent "Biscuits Bingo," a fundraiser of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, raised $9,020, the most yet in the history of the annual event. All proceeds benefit local animal organizations.

To a question of how Arlington stacks up to the rest of the city in terms of crime, she said in comparing lists of crimes, "I think we're doing okay." Some communities have sheets-long lists of monthly crimes whereas tonight's list on Arlington was only one-half sheet, she said.

She said the past week was the "hardest week to work in her career," referring to the slayings of the three police officers. She has been an officer for 16 years.

To a question of what to do about problem renters who throw loud parties and have broken beer bottles strewn throughout their Salisbury St. yard, Officer Luffey said new legislation adopted by the city holds landlords responsible for problem tenants.

After three violations within 90 days, the property becomes a nuisance property. The owner then has to pay back the city on all costs incurred, such as police and building inspector calls to the site.

For immediate action, and to compile a paperwork trail on the property, residents should call 911 again and again when the problem renters are disruptive to the neighborhood.

Ask the dispatcher to put the call out on Channel 8 if you suspect the renters have a scanner. That way, only the police will hear the call.

To a question about ATVs being driven on Arlington Ave., she said to call 911.

In block watch news, President Debbie Neumeyer said Vice-president Mary Lavelle resigned the post to devote more time to the St. Clair seniors.

Ms. Neumeyer thanked her for her years-long devotion to the block watch.

Attendees were urged to contact the nominating committee with candidates' names for president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary as the by-laws require new officers.

"With change comes new ideas," said Ms. Neumeyer.

The election will be held at the June 8 block watch meeting.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said the past week was the hardest week for everyone in the city — residents and employees alike – with the tragedy of the deaths of the three officers.

In regard to the new Zone 3 police station, he said a change was necessitated as the former station on the South Side was filled with asbestos and lead, there were not enough lockers, no separate facilities for female officers, and other deficiencies.

Residents should not conclude that a change is location will mean a change in police coverage.

"Good management, force, and proper equipment is what good, sound public safety is about," he said.

Every vehicle has a laptop so each is a "portable police office," he said.

In the new station, female officers have their own space and showers; there is a community room and a gymnasium; and the building has elevators and is handicap-accessible.

Mr. Kraus said he hopes it will be "a big morale boost for our officers."

To a question about the future of the old station building, he said it has not been decided. He would like to hold Night Court there so summary offenses can be processed immediately.

At the new station, parking will be an issue at first. However, a temporary lot will be ready by October with space for police vehicles.

He said as rental rates in the South Side climb higher, more students are beginning to move into Arlington. Contact him if there are problems.

"I don't want to see Arlington turn into a frat house," he said.

Also contact him if a police officer refuses to write a report on a call.

In Arlington news, he said a pit bull has been biting people since October. Animal control was called, and the owner was cited.

However, a judge would not take the extra step required to resolve the matter by declaring the dog "dangerous."

To attendees' question of who was the judge, Mr. Kraus said he did not know the name.

In conclusion, he said he would like legislation passed statewide requiring owners to report lost or stolen handguns to police. Too often, stolen guns are used in the commission of other crimes.

The city requires missing guns to be reported within 24 hours.

To a question about how to stop gun buying on the Internet, Mr. Kraus said that is a problem. Recalling the three slain officers again, he said the alleged killer bought a lot of guns on-line.

The next block watch meeting will be on June 8.


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