South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Drug-related issues discussed at Carrick/Overbrook Crime Watch


Carrick residents, Zone 3 police officer Christine Luffey, and representatives from Mercy Behavioral Health discussed drug-related issues plaguing the community at the Carrick/Overbrook Crime Watch meeting last Monday in the Concord K5 auditorium.

Officer Christine Luffey started the meeting with her monthly crime report. She outlined six of the major heroin-related arrests by Zone 3 police over the last month and a several drug-related charges filed in each case. In addition, she talked about two heroin-related overdoses that occurred in March.

“Drugs are ruining our country,” Officer Luffey said. “They’re ruining our cities, they’re ruining our communities. Drugs are terrible. They’re just terrible. They’re beating us one day at a time.”

One resident requested an update on the search for a suspect that may have committed a string of business robberies on Brownsville Road earlier this year.

Officer Luffey said one person was arrested for several of the robberies including the incident that occurred at a Rite Aid this past January; however, she was unsure if the suspect was responsible for the robbery at Carrick Hardware.

The resident also asked if Zone 3 police are still receiving overtime in light of the recent robberies.

Officer Luffey confirmed overtime hours, also known as “quality of life patrols,” are still occurring in Carrick and have led to several of the drug arrests she described in the crime report.

“These are all a result of you responding to the crime in your neighborhood,” Officer Luffey said.

Following the crime report, several residents raised concerns about the availability and quality of treatment options for Carrick residents struggling with addiction.

These concerns were addressed by four representatives from Mercy Behavioral Health as they spoke about their addiction and mental health program.

According to Jane Miller, director of Community and Government relations, the group has two locations in Carrick and has provided addiction treatment services in the community for more than 20 years.

“It’s a program for people who are addicted,” Ms. Miller said. “And they can live there and get sober, and get their life set up to move into the community again, and become a working member of society.”

Ms. Miller stressed Mercy Behavioral Health does not operate halfway houses or three quarter houses; however, a conversation about ineffective group homes along Brownsville Road was brought up by several community members.

[These homes] are a revolving door,” a resident said. “It’s a money-making scheme is what it is. It ends up draining our community resources.”

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said because the regulatory framework of most health programs is governed by state laws, the city council is put in a difficult position.

“Whether it’s mental health, physical health, social health, that’s primarily housed within the city and the county,” Councilwoman Rudiak said. “So it’s not really our wheelhouse.”

Ms. Rudiak said her office has brought on a public policy graduate student from Carnegie Mellon University to “map out” the process of establishing a halfway house including licensing, funding, and differentiating between the different types of group homes.

“She’s also had a hard time getting people to call her back,” Councilwoman Rudiak said. “And she’s from our office.”

The next Carrick / Overbrook block watch meeting will be held Monday, May 2 at 7 p.m. in the Pittsburgh Concord K-5 auditorium.


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