Block Watch in a Box can help neighborhoods get organized


Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, alongside police officials and community residents, last week introduced a new program to help Pittsburgh's neighborhoods get even safer.

"Block Watch in a Box" will connect residents with city resources and information to help create or strengthen a block watch in their community. The announcement took place at Phillips Park in Carrick to celebrate the five new block watches that were formed in the neighborhood within the last year. Community leaders, like Phyllis Bianculli, vice president of the Hilltop Alliance, have worked closely with the Mayor's Office and the Bureau of Police to help create these successful block watches.

"Pittsburgh's crime rate is at an historic low, and keeps declining, as a result of the hard work and diligence of our police officers and community members," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "Residents like Phyllis and others who work hard to keep our neighborhoods safe truly are an invaluable asset to our city. Through programs like Block Watch in a Box, the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime and other public safety initiatives, we continue to work together to crack down on crime, protect our neighbors and make our streets even safer."

Pittsburgh has a strong and longstanding tradition of block watches, which are organized to encourage residents to act on their civic role to report and control crime. Community block watches are resident-driven crime prevention groups built on the concept of neighbors looking out for one another, and can span one block or several streets within a neighborhood.

Block watches can be organized as part of a civic association or community development corporation, or an email or phone chain among residents to relay information. Residents should work together and decide what works best for them.

The Block Watch in a Box tool kit provides information and resources to help create effective and sustainable neighborhood watch programs, or re-energize ones that already exist. The kit contains information on how to work closely with the police and other city public safety departments to keep communities safe, clean and green – from start-up resources and public safety connections, to city initiatives and service partners, to training, networking and funding opportunities.

Residents can request a Block Watch in a Box kit at

"I am pleased at this citywide initiative to help in the protection of our neighborhoods and the safe-keeping of our property," said Chief Nate Harper. "Block Watch in a Box is a creative and effective initiative that will not only bring neighborhoods together by stimulating sociable interaction but also help to transform our communities by each person being the essential eyes and ears for those areas in which we build, shop, grow, play and worship."

As residents receive and implement the kit, more information will be added based on residents' requests and reviews. The document will be evaluated in August and updated as appropriate. The presidents of the Zone Public Safety Councils will serve as the advisory committee for the evaluation. Also, while the information is currently geared toward residents, a section for business owners and managers will be added in the upcoming weeks.

Crime in the City of Pittsburgh has decreased by over 25 percent since 2006, and Pittsburgh is in its sixth consecutive year of declining crime rates. Through initiatives like the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime (PIRC), the Nuisance Properties Task Force and the Community Safety website, residents and local law enforcement officials continue to work together to reduce homicide rates, cut down on illegal activity and address problem properties. This year, the city is investing $9 million to modernize the public safety fleet.

Detailed information about Pittsburgh's declining crime rates can be found, beginning on page 58, in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police annual report.


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