Forty-two properties in initial city public safety blitz
Forty-two Carrick properties on 24 streets are the focus of a public safety blitz that began on September 10, just two days after the mayor’s office announced the finalized plans at the Carrick/Overbrook Community Block Watch meeting at Concord K5 gymnasium.
Zone 3 Police, the Department of Public Works, and the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspection will come together for a six-week crackdown on private properties where issues such as drug use, overgrowth, and structural problems have been repeatedly reported by community residents.
Details of the blitz were announced during a community meeting last Tuesday as several city officials including Pittsburgh Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa, Office of Community Affairs Deputy Director Lex Janes, and Zone 3 Police Commander Karen Dixon announced the plan and fielded questions from residents.
According to Mr. Janes, the city’s Department of Innovation and Performance used data from 311 and 911 calls as well as community input to create a list of problem properties. The city initially committed to targeting 12 properties. Community input added 30 more to the list.
“Throughout this process, there has been such a breadth of community input that we wanted to make it as effective and impactful as possible...” Mr. Janes said. “These are properties that have issues that can be addressed by all of public works, permits, licenses and inspection as well as the police.”
Of the 42 properties, 10 are located on Brownsville Road and Kirk Avenue. The other 32 are spread out among 24 neighborhood streets. While the investigation is specifically focused on Carrick, Mr. Janes said one or two properties are located in Overbrook.
“As you might have noticed, the area that had most of these properties is along Brownsville Road,” Mr. Janes said. “We’re hoping that can be extra impactful since it’s right along the business district.”
According to Mr. Janes, each city department will receive a report card containing a property address, picture, parcel info, owner name, mailing address, tax status and a detailed report of the violations and the corresponding number that identifies which department is responsible.
In addition to the 42 properties, residential input about crime related events was given to Commander Dixon who is sharing that information with her officers.
“Commander Dixon has done an incredible job since taking over Zone 3 and we are really confident in her,” Mr. Janes said.
One resident raised a concern about retaliation towards residents for reporting properties and asked how the city will follow up on the investigation once the blitz has concluded on October 22.
Commander Dixon said she doesn’t believe retaliation will be an issue and that information submitted by residents is confidential.
“Regarding retaliation, I control what we’re investigating on this and how we’re responding,” she said. “I’m not sharing who gave me the information with anybody.”
The commander said she is committed to assigning resources to the problem areas and focusing on where crime is active. She also plans to keep officers in sectors and prevent those assigned to Carrick from being pulled to the South Side Flats.
“I cannot get rid of drugs,” Commander Dixon said. “I just can’t. We move it and we displace it, and we move it again and displace it again, and so we have to be aware of where it’s moved to and keep pushing it.”
“Please know Zone 3 is committed to doing our very best to make this neighborhood safe,” Officer Luffey said. “Now I have the pleasure of telling you some of the victories we’ve had throughout the summer.”
Included among the victories are 22 arrests for prostitution related charges as well as several narcotics and burglary arrests.
“I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for fighting for Carrick,” Officer Luffey said. “So many communities have fallen apart because they didn’t have people who care.”
The next Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch Meeting will be at 7 p.m. on October 5 at the Concord K5 auditorium on Brownsville Road.