South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Council wants a survey of cameras

 


The Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting of Jan. 16 featured the election of the organization’s officers. Reelected for two-year terms were President Ken Wolfe (Allentown), secretary Donna Williams (Carrick), and treasurer Harry Wolfe, Jr. (Mt. Washington). Liz Style, who recently retired from the city’s Dept. of Public Safety, and resides in South Side, was elected vice-president.

Zone 3 community relations Officer Christine Luffey kicked off the meeting with an update of last year’s “Get Stuffed with Love” program that aims to ensure that no city residents go without Thanksgiving dinner.

The annual delivery of free, warm meals on Thanksgiving Day serves everyone in need in all of the city police zones.

Officer Luffey said 2016 was record-breaking for the program with 3,180 meals delivered.

“The response in Zone 3 was overwhelming,” she said, as more than 1,400 meals were served in the zone.

She also said she is excited for the new year as she now has a partner with whom to share her duties: Officer Nathan Auvil.

“He’s committed to making a difference,” she said. 

Next, Ken Wolfe said he met recently with the disruptive property group about Amanda Ave. A landlord/owner who was present was told he needs to start the eviction process for a second floor tenant whose son was arrested for dealing heroin and possessing false identification. The son lives with his father on the second floor. The father has resided in the building for 10 years.

That is only one, Mr. Wolfe said, “but it is a start anyway.”

A Bon Air resident commended Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon for the swift police response to a shooting in a jitney on McKinley St. in November. A suspect was arrested a week later.

“Our neighborhood would like to thank you all,” he said.

Next, Barbara Rudiak, of the South Side Community Council, said she recently saw youngsters fighting outside the SouthSide Works movie theater, and called 911. She has also witnessed fighting outside the Aldi grocery story in South Side.

She also reported the appeal hearing is Feb. 2 for Mother Fletcher’s, an underage dance club on East Carson St. that attempted to open last year. It was shut down by the city as its occupancy permit was for restaurant use.

The owners of Mother Fletcher’s took the matter to federal court on the grounds that their right to due process was violated. The city had to prove that it was not operating as a restaurant, which it did.

The judge ruled for the city, after which Mother Fletcher’s filed an appeal on Sept. 30. A Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing is scheduled for Feb. 2 at 10:40 a.m. In the meantime, Mother Fletcher’s remains closed.

Next, Officer Auvil said he walked in South Side and Mt. Washington compiling a list of private cameras for an interactive map. He wants to do the same in Carrick.

The cameras could serve two purposes: if criminals know the police have access it might cut down on crimes; and cameras could help solve crimes.

Ms. Rudiak said while officers may be on different streets, and therefore cannot see a crime occurring, the cameras are ever-present.

A Bon Air resident said the community is trying to acquire cameras for its parklet as it was recently vandalized.

Ms. Rudiak said with meetings on the city budget approaching, Zone 3 members should attend and speak as one voice on the need for cameras in the zone.

“There’s power in working with more than one community,” she said.

Cameras will also help on the Hilltop when police officers are taken away on Friday and Saturday evenings to the South Side.

Mr. Wolfe said he would like a list of where cameras are needed. That way, if he talks to officials, he can say a certain number of cameras are needed in specific spots.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Ms. Rudiak reported the first “South Watch” meeting will be held at noon on March 8. It will be based on Oakwatch, a public safety/code compliance initiative in Oakland that brings residents and groups together to identify code violations, advocate for remediation, and monitor the outcomes.

Oakwatch compiles a report in which the worst violations/properties are prioritized, and then targeted for code compliance.

She said South Watch will first look at refuse collection, and focus on 10-15 properties.

In announcements, the 19th annual “Biscuits Bingo” fundraiser for local animal organizations, and presented by the Pittsburgh Police, will be held on March 4 at the IBEW Hall Local #5, 5 Hot Metal St., South Side.

Doors open at 10 a.m., and bingo starts at noon. Admission is $25 cash only, and tickets can only be purchased at the door. For more information, email: pghbiscuitsbingo@yahoo.com, or call 412-799-3713.

There will be refreshments, raffles, Chinese auction, gift baskets, and more. Attendees who donate a pet food item will qualify to play a special game.

There will be no Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting in February, but planning is underway for a “Meet the Acting Chief” gathering sometime in February. Details coming soon.

The next Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the zone station on March 20.

 

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