South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Coghill priorities are opioid crisis, youth and new Division 4

 

February 13, 2018



Top priorities for newly-elected District 4 councilman Anthony Coghill include tackling opioids, revitalizing local business districts, improving youth athletics, and restoring the local public works division.

Mr. Coghill attended his first Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch meeting as a member of Pittsburgh’s City Council last Monday. He thanked the audience for their support and said he was honored to receive their votes.

“You put your faith in me,” the councilman said. “You believe I can do a good job, and I’m here to tell you I’m so proud and I can’t wait.”

Mr. Coghill gathered community feedback and discussed the priorities he will look to tackle during his term. His top priority is confronting the opioid problem, which he referred to as the “5,000-pound elephant in the room.”

“There is no silver bullet or magic pill here,” the councilman said.

Instead, the councilman plans to start with education and will look to incorporate drug-abuse programming and education at the middle school level.

“We will be working to get education programs in the schools,” Mr. Coghill said. “It has got the attention of everybody. Everybody is all in now, which means there is going to be a lot more money for different things.”

The councilman is also visiting three-quarter houses and “serenity houses” to better understand the effectiveness of the resources in the community.

In addition to opioids, the councilman is working to re-open the public works Division 4 headquarters in Knoxville after it closed last year.

Mr. Coghill said his office fielded over 450 3-1-1 calls during a recent weekend snow storm. This is due in part to crews coming to Carrick from both Oakland and the West End and therefore affecting the efficiency of snow removal.

The councilman presented the 3-1-1 data to the mayor and is working on a plan to have the facility reopened over the next couple of years.

A third priority will be the promotion of youth athletics throughout the community. The councilman will advocate for more athletic programs and devote more resources to local fields.

“The more you can get kids involved with sports, the better the community is going to be,” the councilman said.

He will also focus on the development of South Pittsburgh business districts. While the main focus is Broadway Avenue in Beechview, he said he will also work to drive revitalization to Brownsville Road in Carrick.

Abandoned properties is another issue. He encouraged residents to call his office if they live near a home that is being neglected by a landlord or the city.

“One other pet peeve of mine is city-owned abandoned houses,” the councilman said. “I’ll be all over the city.”

In addition to councilman Coghill’s presentation, Zone 3 police officer Christine Luffey heard complaints from several residents regarding crime throughout the neighborhood.

Several complained about illegal dirt bikes in Phillips Park and on Brownsville Road. A resident complained that riders are usually teenagers and the bikes are frequently without license plates.

Multiple residents reported receiving anonymous letters stating drug activity has been observed at a specific address on their street. The letters are signed “your neighbors” and do not list a return address.

Officer Luffey also provided her monthly crime report which covered several criminal incidents in detail.

“Let me tell you some success stories,” officer Luffey said. “I picked out the most interesting reports that impact your communities.”

According to one report, a suspect was charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia on January 29 after police stopped a vehicle that passed through an accident scene on Nobles Lane.

The driver was pulled over after ignoring the officers’ attempt to restrict traffic from the area. Officers conducted a search after noticing a smell of marijuana from inside the vehicle. One suspect was arrested and charged.

Officers were patrolling at the intersection of Brownsville Road and Copperfield Avenue on January 24 at 8:41 p.m. following multiple complaints of drug sale activity in the area. Officers pulled over a vehicle after a driver failed to stop at a stop sign.

Police searched the vehicle after noticing the smell of marijuana. In addition to drugs, police discovered a BB gun and a digital scale. One of the passengers provided an incorrect name and date of birth to police. It was later discovered the suspect was wanted on an existing warrant.

A male suspect was charged with possession of a controlled substance on January 11 at 5 p.m. after police pulled over a vehicle that did not have inspection or emissions stickers. In addition to carrying illegal narcotics, the driver did not have a valid driver’s license. The suspect was arrested and charged.

Police staged a controlled buy on Merritt Avenue with a suspected drug dealer on January 10 at 6:10 p.m. after receiving a tip containing a phone number. According to police, the suspect was arrested after requesting a firearms trade. Eight bundles of heroin were also recovered.

On January 3 at 5:30 p.m., officers responded to a robbery in progress on Clifton Boulevard. A male suspect had allegedly stolen a female victim’s cell phone while she was walking on Brownsville Road. The victim reportedly had an existing PFA order against the suspect. The suspect was arrested and charged.

The next Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch meeting is March 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Concord K5 auditorium.

 

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