South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 residents updated on latest projects and programs at Public Safety Council meeting

 


The Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting of March 21, began with news of the next spring city-wide public safety meeting.

It will be held on April 20 at the Teamsters #2409 Temple, 4701 Butler St., Lawrenceville. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., with light refreshments served at 6 p.m.

Mayor William Peduto and public safety director Wendell Hissrich will be present, as will the heads of departments including the police, fire, Emergency Medical Services, Homeland Security, and more.

Public safety information will be available.

Zone 3 council vice-president Ron Rompala, who conducted the meeting, told attendees to spread news of the meeting.

“Let's make a big response,” he said.

Liz Style, of the city's Dept. of Public Safety, said street sweeping will begin on April 4.

Streets in Allentown, Carrick, and South Side that were previously cleaned on the first week of the month will now be cleaned on the third week, she said.

Of the 62 graduates of the recent Pittsburgh police academy class, 18 percent are racial minorities.

Ms. Style said some people feel the standards were lowered to attract more minorities, but that is not true.

“We're not going to allow any decline in terms of safety for the city,” she said.

Instead, she attributed the increase in minority graduates to the city's enhancement of recruitment methods.

On another topic, she said the school district's high schools' Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offers Public Safety as a program option.

The various programs help students explore and choose careers that match their interests, and provide the education and experience necessary to succeed.

While CTE is held at Westinghouse High School, any student in the city's high schools may participate.

Next, she said a teddy bear drive is being conducted city-wide so police officers can hand children a bear when they respond to a dangerous scene in which children are present.

The drive began last year in Zone 3 at the suggestion of public safety council secretary Donna Williams.

At that time, she said three officers had recently removed children from an Allentown home during a kitchen fire.

The next day, two children saw one of the officers and ran to him. The officer said he wished he had something to give them.

The bears, which must be new, in bags, and of 12-inches maximum length, may be placed in drop-off boxes at all of the zones' police stations until April 20. Money cannot be accepted.

Ms. Style reported the South Side Community Council (SSCC) held a meeting on March 14 about forming a public safety/code compliance initiative in the South Side similar to Oakwatch.

Oakland's Oakwatch works to improve the quality of life in Oakland by enforcing codes on negligent property owners, housing violations, parking violations, disruptive behavior, excessive noise, and underage drinking.

The next SSCC meeting on forming an Oakwatch-type organization will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 31 at the Brashear Center.

Pittsburgh EMS, in conjunction with UPMC, is starting a Citizen CPR training program. Anyone interested in scheduling a free program for their community group should email: mark.pinchalk@pittsburghpa.gov.

“It's another way to participate more and strengthen our communities,” Ms. Style said.

In news/concerns of attendees, there was an incident the prior week in which an 18-month-old boy was found alone in a parklet in the Bon Air area.

When the mother was found, she said when she awoke the baby was not in the house, and that this had never happened before. But it occurred again the next day, after which the Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) became involved.

To a complaint about a Buick with an expired inspection sticker that has been abandoned on Conniston Ave. in Bon Air for a year, Officer Christine Luffey said the late Officer John Stofesky was good at handling abandoned cars.

It will take time for the new officer assigned to the task to get up to speed, she said.

An attendee said he was concerned about a homeless camp, with a large stockpile of firewood, under the McArdle bridge as it is a fire hazard/public safety issue.

Officer Ed Cunningham said the police are working on a comprehensive plan for the homeless that balances their rights with protecting the general public.

He also said a smartphone app is being developed that will allow the police who come in contact with the homeless or an encampment to get them assistance.

“We want to get them the help they need,” he said.

A Mt. Washington resident said cameras will soon be put up in areas that crime reports pinpoint as needing cameras most.

An Overbrook resident said many in the public think the city paid for the cameras in Carrick, but that businessmen bought them; there was no city money involved.

A Knoxville resident said the next community forum of the Knoxville Community Council will be held at 6 p.m. on May 11 at St. Paul AME Church, 400 Orchard Place. The topic of “safety around the home” will be addressed, she said.

Everyone is invited.

“If we can help you, we're only a phone call away,” Officer Luffey said. She would like a list of the group's top three

concerns, she said.

A Mt. Washington resident asked about the city noise ordinance as there is a lot noise from construction work that sometimes occurs as late as 10:30 p.m. at a nearby home.

Officer Cunningham said the noise ordinance is flawed and under reconstruction.

But if the problem is ongoing, call 311 and it will be addressed. If it is after midnight and loud, the police will respond and speak with the noise-makers about the matter.

If you call the police, give your name and phone number so the police can contact you for more information. If you do not want your name over the air, tell the dispatcher that.

The problem with anonymous calls is the police have no one to contact if more information is sought.

 

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