South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

MAD DADS may soon be mentoring area youth on Hilltop street corners


MAD DADS, clean-ups, graffiti, and squatters were among the topics at the April 17 meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council held in the Zone 3 station.

Officer Nathan Auvil began the meeting with news that he is working on a Warrington Ave. virtual block watch in which residents provide basic information on where their security cameras are located. If there is a crime in the area, the police may request a copy of a video which may assist in their investigation.

He called it “preventative” and “reactionary” in regard to criminal investigations.

Next, an attendee said he rode around Saturday and looked at “hot spots” involving youths for the MAD DADS to go to and attempt mentorship. He was told the MAD DADS program is “welcome and wanted.”

The group is comprised of community fathers whose mission is to maintain safer communities while impacting the issues of drugs, gangs, and violence.

Soon, 12 to 18 volunteers from the MAD DADS organization will hang out on corners with youths with the goal of providing mentorship. Most of the volunteers are from the East End, and some live in the Pittsburgh-area neighborhoods. Some also have law enforcement experience.

The program is free to the city.

To a question of what areas were looked at for possible MAD DADS involvement, he listed Allentown, Grandview Park, Millbridge St., Zara St., Rochelle St., Knoxville branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and others.

Next, a Mt. Washington resident said the homeless are sleeping in Grandview Park by the bandstand. He also reported there was a big clean-up in the neighborhood hollow the prior weekend, resulting in the removal of 120 tires, grocery carts, televisions, and more.

“It was just polluted down there,” he said.

Neighbors told him a truck comes down Penelope St. and dumps items at the site. He told them to call the police when they witness the illegal activity.

Another clean-up with youths will be occurring in the near future.

An attendee mentioned Mayor Peduto’s recent press conference in which he announced a new community policing initiative in all of the zones. The goal is to reduce crime and create partnerships with residents

Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon said the zone has been doing community-oriented policing for some time.

She said while one designated officer in the zone will participate with community groups, special events, school-based activities and more, and inform zone officials of the problems and what the police should be doing, the effort will involve all officers working together on all shifts.

An attendee commented “how nice” it is to see residents wave to the officers as they drive by. She said Zone 3 “is like a family.”

Thirty new police recruits were recently sworn-in, raising the police staffing to 912. Commander Dixon said Zone 3 will receive three new officers.

“They make me look good,” she said of the current Zone 3 force.

A Bon Air resident asked if an officer can stop by the neighborhood’s small park sometimes, which will help deter trouble there.

The commander said as the warm weather begins, she sends a list reminding officers to hit the parks. She will remind them about the Bon Air park, she said.

Next, the problem of graffiti was raised as it is starting to hit mailboxes and more.

 Commander Dixon said to call 911 if the crime is in progress. If the vandalism already occurred, call 311 and a police officer will come and photograph the damage and file a report as it is important to have a record.

Zone 3 public safety council President Ken Wolfe said for Graffiti Busters to come out and remove the graffiti with a power wash, a 311 call and a photo are required. But there are restrictions.

On another topic, a Knoxville resident said she had safety concerns about squatters in an Orchard Ave. house who are using a generator.

Officer Auvil said he talked to the property owner, who said it was okay for the people to be there as they had his permission. Therefore, they are not squatters. Any safety concerns should be directed to him, and he will contact the owner.

To a question if shoes strung over a high wire is drug-related, Mr. Wolfe said no, it is merely a nuisance.

In upcoming events, a Mt. Oliver-Knoxville community clean-up will held on Sat., April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers should meet at either the PetShop collaboration space, 212 Brownsville Rd., or at St. Paul AME Church, 400 Orchard Place.

To volunteer, register at:

The “Beams to Bridges” program is looking for 25 community members who live in the Hilltop, and 25 community-based professionals who work in the Hilltop to become certified in mental health first aid.

Participants will receive one-on-one support to help identify adequate mental health treatment, services, and resources. To participate, call 412-251-7793 or email

The final information was about the state’s “yellow dot program” to assist motorists following a traffic accident when they may not be able to communicate their needs.

 Placing a yellow dot in one’s vehicle’s rear window alerts first responders to check the glove compartment for vital information to ensure one receives the proper medical attention.

The next Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. on May 15 in the zone station. However, Mr. Wolfe said he might eventually move the meetings to a larger venue due to growing attendance.


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