South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Public safety council questions area child's death, urban hunting in park


The February Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting featured an election, and discussion on hunting in the city, the South Side nightlife, and more.

Ken Wolfe, public safety council president, began the meeting by stating that at the next meeting he wants to discuss how residents can help the police, EMS, and fire departments serve better, such as by increasing the number of volunteers.

He plans to meet with officials about an anonymous questionnaire for police officers on how we can help with day-to-day issues.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus next brought up the recent tragedy of the beating death over a nine-hour period of an 11-year-old in Knoxville by his mother's boyfriend.

The child, Donovan McKee, was homeschooled on the cyber charter school program. Mr. Kraus asked what role government plays in the supervised inspection of students in such schools.

"Perhaps we could have seen an indication that all was not right," he said.

"Eleven is too young for cyber school. I think kids need to go to school," Crime prevention Officer Christine Luffey said.

A committee member suggested he might have been in regular school, but was moved to homeschooling to hide what was happening to him.

Another member said although a neighbor heard something occurring in the home, she did not call police, most likely from fear of retaliation.

It was also stated the child's biological father should have been involved in his life.

"There was nobody in authority to look out for him.

"We failed him," Mr. Kraus said.

Mr. Wolfe said public school boards have no interaction with charter schools once they are operational.

He suggested getting someone from the state Dept. of Education to discuss the topic at a future public safety meeting.

Liz Style of the Mayor's Office said the MOMS and COPS organization provides training in family violence. The next training will be held in the spring.

Next, a committee member said a man is bow-hunting out of a camouflaged shed on Bailey Ave. in Mt. Washington.

"Be careful when walking a dog in the park as you could be hit by an arrow," he said.

Officer Luffey said hunting is prohibited in the park.

"You can hunt in the city, but so many yards away and at certain times. There are all kinds of rules," she said.

In good news, Mr. Kraus said the mayor has committed to the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) agreement.

Council unanimously allocated $100,000 to bring the RHI to Pittsburgh to deal with the effects of the South Side bar saturation, but the legislation needed the mayor's signature to move forward.

The non-profit RHI promotes cooperation among those involved in hospitality, safety, and community development groups. The RHI's approach is communication, cooperation, consensus, commitment, and collaboration among stakeholders.

Mr. Kraus said it is about promoting a safe and healthy nightlife across the city.

On another South Side topic, he said the fence is up on the Riverfront Park off-leash dog exercise area, which he hopes to have open in late spring.

Regarding the Carrick/Overbrook block watch, Westmont Ave. has been a great success, whereas the 2600 block of Brownsville Rd. is still problematic with open drug dealing and more.

Mr. Kraus said he would make sure Mooney's and Characters bars are placed on the nuisance list.

Officer Luffey attributed the success of Westmont Ave. to the "power of police working hand-in-hand with residents."

Before then, fighting and other activities that erode the quality-of-life of neighborhoods were everyday occurrences.

There is a new block watch on Spokane Ave.

Ms. Style said she is working on a manual for maintaining a block watch. Even after crime is reduced, a block watch is needed for quality-of-life issues like abandoned properties, unleashed dogs, and more, she said.

The manual will include information such as which city departments to partner with on these issues. Once it is reviewed, the manual will become publicly available.

In the committee elections which concluded the meeting, all the current officers were reelected with no opposition: Mr. Wolfe, president; Sue Wielock, vice-president; Donna Wielock, secretary; and Harry Wolfe, treasurer.

The next public safety meeting is planned for March 21 in, tentatively, Arlington.


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