South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 commander updates safety council on St. Patrick's efforts


Last updated 3/30/2015 at 5:28pm

The March meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting began with good news about two recent events.

The first was the 17th annual “Biscuits Bingo,” fundraiser for local animal organizations held March 7, at the IBEW Hall Local #5, South Side. The event raised a record $26,090, $5,000 more than last year.

Crime prevention Officer Christine Luffey, who organizes the event each year, said it will be held again next year.

New Zone 3 Commander Larry Scirotto said there were more than 15,000 visitors in South Side on March 14 following the St. Patrick’s Day parade “without any major incident.” More than 75 officers were assigned to Carson St. that day.

In other Zone 3 news, he said seven new officers from the recent graduating class were assigned to the zone. That is more officers than any other zone.

Some new positions were created, resulting in 13 officers on the 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift. In the past, there were four officers on this shift.

A current crime problem is the stealing of copper from empty houses, the commander said. Neighbors must be diligent as an empty house provides an “endless time frame” with no pattern as to day or time of illegal entry.

An attendee suggested getting an alarm system if they know their home will be empty for a few months.

In his remarks, Councilman Bruce Kraus said the success of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration hinges on a “huge collaborative effort.”

He recognized the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI), which promotes cooperation among hospitality, safety, and community development groups, for getting all of the stakeholders to buy into their recommendations.

The annual celebrations have begun to implement RHI’s small transportation changes, like cabs, valets, shuttles, pedicabs, and free lots in which to park.

County officers’ horses are not only entertainment for revelers to interact with, but serve as a sign of structure, law, and order, he said.

Mr. Kraus said, in the past, he felt the ball was dropped on pedestrian traffic during the celebration. But not this year as there was a crossing guard at 18th and Carson streets, one of the most dangerous intersections in the city.

He said the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, South Side Chamber of Commerce, and the police all “pulled together to make the holiday safe.”

The streets on Sunday, or the day after, were “immaculate,” he said. Duquesne University students picked up trash on side streets, while Public Works employees ran street sweepers.

To a question of whether part of the South Side could be closed off for pedestrians for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Mr. Kraus said closing an area adds to the disorder.

Commander Scirotto said transportation is also relevant to foot traffic as fighting is sometimes spurred by congestion, like bumping into someone’s girlfriend.

To a question about setting up court in South Side, Mr. Kraus said District Judge Gene Ricciardi is a big fan of it, and that he would revisit the issue.

He said an overall goal is the “equitable distribution of public safety resources” throughout all the Zone 3 areas.

“Everyone is entitled to police services,” he said, noting “We are beginning to hit our stride.”

Next, a Housing Authoring representative said some residents of Morse Gardens, 2416 Sarah St., are concerned about how the new permit parking in their area would affect them and their visitors.

She was told that enforcement includes a two-hour grace period. The grace period is the amount of time a non-permit holder is permitted to park during enforcement hours.

Next, an attendee commented she would like to hear fresh ideas on what public safety council members can do in Zone 3.

Public safety council president Ken Wolfe said he meets monthly with other zones’ public safety councils.

“I want to see how we fit in the city,” he said.

He has also spoken before numerous groups about the Zone 3 public safety council, but no one subsequently attended any meetings.

Even after taking the meetings to different neighborhoods, people don’t return to the meetings unless they have an issue.

“I’m willing to go and try to get people to come,” he said.

An attendee said each of the people in the room is a captain of their respective areas. She said everyone has their own neighborhood problems, and attendees need to organize and support each other on these problems.

She said money needs to be raised, and block watches organized.

“It is our responsibility to get into a community and find out where block watches are, and educate those people,” she said.

Mr. Wolfe said we need to find out “What the city wants us to be.”

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on April 20 in the Zone 3 police station.


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