South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Carrick near top in opioid overdoses in city neighborhoods


Opioid overdoses continue to climb in Carrick as the neighborhood is on pace to triple last year’s total and currently has the second most opioid-related incidents out of all city neighborhoods in 2017.

The statistics, provided by Pittsburgh Police crime analyst Heath Johnson at last week’s Carrick / Overbrook Crime Watch meeting, indicate that 40 overdoses and five deaths occurred this year in the 1.673 square miles that make up the neighborhood of Carrick.

While incidents remain high in Carrick, Mr. Johnson said the opioid epidemic is also impacting the entire city as 72 Pittsburgh residents have died this year due to an overdose. He also said there have consistently been weekends with overdoses in the “double digits.”

“The only neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh that is surpassing Carrick [on overdoses] is the central business district downtown,” Mr. Johnson said.

A positive trend in the statistics points to a decrease in the number of deaths following an overdose, which historically has been between 20 and 23 percent. According to Mr. Johnson, only 12 to 15 percent of overdoses are resulting in death this year due to the efficiency of first responders; however, responding to overdoses is also draining police resources.

“There is a lot of people that are coming to the scene of overdoses and providing life-saving care,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson also presented statistics that violent crimes and property crimes are slightly down in Carrick compared to last year, but remain relatively unchanged compared to the five-year average. He also presented a heat map showing that most crime occurs in pockets along the Brownsville Road corridor.

The statistics showed that Carrick’s overall crime rate per 1,000 residents is 41.6 percent and only slightly higher than the City of Pittsburgh’s rate of 40.3 percent.

Community relations officer Christine Luffey said that 11 overdoses occurred over the last 30 days, and there have been multiple occurrences of overdoses happening in the bathrooms of businesses along Brownsville Road.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we have to do something,” officer Luffey said. “[The opioid epidemic] is ruining families, our community, our city, our country.”

In her monthly crime report, officer Luffey provided details on several drug arrests that occurred in Carrick between April 3 and May 1.

On April 5 at 4:54 p.m. police responded to a 911 report of three individuals selling narcotics out of a residence in the 2000 block of Brownsville Road. When officers arrived at the location, they discovered multiple firearms, marijuana, various pills, multiple cell phones, and digital scales. The three suspects were detained and charged.

Police responded to a woman who reported that her parked vehicle was struck on April 27 at 9:40 p.m. on East Meyers Street. According to officer Luffey, the suspect failed a field sobriety test and heroin was found at the scene. He was taken to the hospital and will be charged by summons in the mail.

Narcotics detectives received a tip containing the phone number of a suspect accused of selling narcotics. Officers requested to purchase $150 worth of heroin via text message to the suspect’s phone. The officers arranged a controlled buy and arrested the suspect at the scene on April 27.

Officers uncovered $1,212 in cash and two bundles of heroin. The suspect was arrested for possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, criminal use of a communications device, and driving under a suspended license.

Two suspects were arrested after police discovered narcotics following a traffic stop in the 200 block of Parkfield Street on April 27 at 2:30 a.m. Five individuals were in the vehicle. When removed from the vehicle, two males attempted to fight and became disorderly. A female suspect admitted to the intent to sell narcotics.

Following the crime report, officer Luffey also addressed several complaints about a basketball hoop on Copperfield Avenue that was placed on a public sidewalk. Several residents have called police to complain the basketball hoop obstructs the sidewalk.

Officer Luffey said it’s illegal to obstruct someone’s right of way on city sidewalks and the issue is under investigation.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak also made a couple of announcements at the meeting.

She provided an update on the city’s effort to acquire the Berg Place apartment building through the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). According to the councilwoman, the company owning the property recently filed for bankruptcy; however, she does not believe this will ultimately prevent the URA from acquiring the building.

“It’s just incredibly frustrating,” the councilwoman said. “We are proceeding with the logic that the bankruptcy has no [impact] on the T-sale.”

The councilwoman also said the engineering phase is finished on the redesign of the intersection of Parkfield Street and Brownsville Road, and her office will be putting out a Request for Proposal for a local artist to install an “artistic marker” on the intersection.

The next Carrick / Overbrook Crime Watch meeting will be June 5.


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