South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Brownsville Road establishes city's first 'virtual block watch'


District 4 Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak is joined by police officials and Carrick stakeholders in announcing a first of its kind "virtual block watch" along Brownsville Road in Carrick.

The Carrick Overbrook Block Watch took a crime prevention concept first proposed by then Zone 3 Lt. Larry Scirotto to a reality in less than a year.

With the cooperation of Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and 15 businesses along Brownsville Road, the city's first "virtual block watch" became a reality last week.

"We are reclaiming our neighborhood for all the diverse families that call this our home. We're not going away. We're not moving away. We're staying here. We're staying firm and working hard to bring Carrick back to greatness," Ms. Rudiak said.

The virtual block watch brought 15 businesses together to monitor the 2500, 2600 and 2700 blocks of Brownsville Road. They joined together to raise $2,850 to purchase and install video cameras in the area to help prevent crime and record any criminal activity.

Ms. Rudiak said the cooperation between businesses to make the virtual block watch a reality was "very special" and doesn't happen everywhere. In addition to working with each other, the businesses also worked with the Carrick Overbrook Block Watch and the Carrick Community Council on the project.

Councilwoman Rudiak also provided a $1,080.05 grant to make Virtual Block Watch signs.

Police will not monitor the cameras but will have a record of the locations and will be permitted to view recordings that might assist with the identification and arrest of a suspect in a crime.

As the first virtual block watch in the city, it will serve as a pilot for other communities looking to emulate them Ms. Rudiak said noting there are 86 block watches in the city.

Carrick businessman Michael Dear said it was a great opportunity for businesses to work together and put criminals on notice.

Attorney Greg Castelli said with the cameras are the first step in fighting back. He said it's going to be "wonderful" the first time a building is tagged with graffiti and they will be able to go back and identify the perpetrator with their HD cameras.

Commander Scirotto said Brownsville Road was the perfect blueprint for what they want to do citywide. The commitment from the community groups, the businesses and the councilwoman's office made the virtual block watch possible in Carrick.


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