South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Preventable crimes discussed at May's Public Safety meeting


The May 16 Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting began with a Mt. Washington resident complaining about vandalism in Grandview Park.

He said youngsters try to break newly planted trees and set the port-a-johns on fire, among other destructive acts.

There are cameras in the park, so images of the vandals are expected.

Another attendee said in Bon Air, young thieves are not breaking into cars to steal valuables as the vehicles are left unlocked. Thieves merely open the doors and take what they want as residents are leaving items visible and not locking doors.

Descriptions of the thieves were turned into the police.

In response to the thefts, Zone 3 police Commander Karen Dixon said she will have directed patrols in the area.

City council President Bruce Kraus said he first met police Officer Christine Luffey 15 years ago when she came to a meeting to inform residents of how to avoid having their cars broken into.

Officer Luffey said then, as now, to lock doors and leave no visible items.

The commander said robbers see young women exiting cars without purses on East Carson St. on weekends, and assume the purses are in the car, and break in. But they could have small purses with them, or none at all, she said.

A Mt. Washington resident said she will put a big push on neighbors to call 911 because people do not want to get involved.

Commander Dixon said the 911 center staffing includes civilians who take reports, like about thefts. When someone calls 911, they will be asked if they are okay with completing reports over the telephone.

Officer Luffey and Liz Style, of the city’s Dept. of Public Safety, agreed to work on a public service announcement on the city channel about avoiding break-ins.

In her brief update, Ms. Style said National Night Out will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

To register a block watch or other group, and for more information, visit: Public safety materials may be requested.

A family-friendly kick-off for the event is scheduled for July 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Market Square, downtown.

She called the April 20 city-wide public safety meeting “very successful.” There were about 200 attendees.

The next city-wide public safety meeting will be on Oct. 19 at a site to be determined.

An attendee said he is working with a group to get more cameras in District 2.

Mr. Kraus said the most important aspect of cameras is the chain of command of the evidence. If corrupted, it will be useless in prosecuting.

In other news, a Mt. Washington resident complained about drug activity on Grandview Ave. She said a man will park his car elsewhere, get into another car, and drive around the block. The occupants then go behind the library and onto the sidewalk. This occurs in mid-afternoon.

The June 6 meeting of the Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch will feature CPR demonstrations through the Citizen CPR Training program, presented by the city’s EMS in conjunction with UPMC.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Concord Elementary School.

An attendee said he has witnessed drug dealing at a house on his street. He wrote down a license plate number although the drug dealers change cars and plates.

“At the beginning of the month business is booming,” he said.

Mr. Kraus said Governor Wolf and state officials are aware of the drug problem statewide.

“We’re not alone in trying to deal with this opiate epidemic,” he said.

He said while society has discussed the war on drugs for a long time, we need to understand the addict and what drives him.

Mr. Kraus said he had minor surgery once, and was sent home with opiates, or prescription drugs, “at every turn.”

A Carrick resident said there are youngsters who know their job this summer will be running drugs. She said with nothing to do, the youngsters become more vulnerable to illegal activities.

Mr. Kraus said the Peduto Administration is working to hire youngsters for summer work. Last year, more than 1,000 were employed, with more sought this summer.

“I’m a big fan of summer youth employment,” he said.

Ms. Style said it is also important to make youngsters aware of the summer activities offered by the city parks and recreation centers. Libraries, also, provide summer activities and programs.

On the topic of libraries, Mr. Kraus reported the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Knoxville branch will reopen next month. It has been closed for $3.5 million in renovations since last June.

“It is absolutely spectacular,” he said.

The plan is to next move onto the Carrick branch, he said, followed by Mt. Washington.

On another topic, an attendee said a lack of vocational training in this area is a problem. She said people interested in these careers “fall through the cracks.”

Ms. Style said the school district’s high schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) program help students explore careers that match their interests, and provide the education and assistance to help them succeed.

Mr. Kraus said the carpenters’ building on the Parkway West is a training facility.

In news of other programs, an attendee said the Citizen’s Police Academy is very helpful, and “shows you a lot you never knew.”

Ms. Style said the city’s “Promised Beginnings” initiative is designed to promote kindergarten readiness with parents.

It also aims to keep parents involved with the school process the entire school year.

She said some parents are being ordered by the court to attend the series of workshops.


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