South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Recovery homes to display inspection certificates


Addiction recovery homes in Carrick and across the region will begin to voluntarily display certificates indicating they’ve received inspection and the proper operating procedures are in place.

While mandatory inspections for recovery homes in Pennsylvania are set to begin in a couple of years, many Carrick facilities and homes across the area are beginning the process early.

A short presentation on the new certification plan, also known as the “Good Neighbor Policy,” was given by Leo Hutchison of the Western Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences (West PARR) at last Monday’s meeting of the Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch.

Regular drug testing, curfews, and live-in managers are among the criteria required for a residence to become certified. Additionally, these properties have rules in place regarding noise, smoking, loitering, parking and the cleanliness of the surrounding property.

Recovery residences will also look to help surrounding neighbors by shoveling driveways, sidewalks, and parking spaces as needed.

In the event of an issue or community complaint, each certificate displayed will contain phone numbers for the live-in manager, the property owner, and a contact at West PARR, to serve as three points of contact for neighbors to submit complaints or discuss issues.

“The manager will be first point of contact,” Mr. Hutchison said. “If you don’t get your problem solved, a contact number for the owner has to be posted. If you still don’t get satisfaction on your complaint, then our number will also be listed.”

While many recovery homes will go through the process of obtaining certification from West PARR, inspections are not yet required by state law.

Last December, Governor Wolf signed a bill that gives the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs regulatory authority to license recovery homes that receive public funds. However, it’s unlikely that the processes will be enforced until 2020.

“You’re going to know which ones are done right,” Mr. Hutchison said. “Unfortunately for now, there isn’t much we can do about the ones that aren’t certified.”

In addition to the short presentation from Mr. Hutchison, Zone 3 officer Christine Luffey provided a monthly crime update at the meeting.

Officer Luffey first addressed the ongoing murder investigation of Kevin Thompson, whose severed remains were found in his home on Parkfield Street in late May. Officer Luffey confirmed that John Dickinson, the suspect in the case, has been arrested and denied bail.

She also provided an overview of a few drug arrests made in Carrick and Overbrook between May 7 and June 5.

According to officer Luffey, police were conducting surveillance on a home in the 2000 block of Brownsville Road that had been reported multiple times for drug activity. They stopped, questioned, and arrested a male suspect who exited the home and admitted to purchasing crack-cocaine.

Police then obtained a search warrant for the residence and forced entry on May 11 at 6:30 p.m. and recovered crack-cocaine, a digital scale, empty stamp bags, and multiple cell phones. Police arrested Frank Baker of Carrick and Qua Bullock from McKeesport.

On May 19 at 4:25 p.m. police arrived at the KFC on Brownsville Road in response to a 911 call about a female behaving suspiciously. When police arrived, they noted she appeared to be highly intoxicated and had two young children with her. The female suspect was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of children after they discovered heroin in her purse.

A male and a female were arrested after police pulled over a vehicle for failing to use a turn signal in the 100 block of Hornaday Road. In addition to recovering heroin and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, the male suspect was driving with a suspended license.

Two were arrested following a high-speed chase on Saw Mill Run Boulevard. Police were attempting to stop the vehicle after they received a tip that a juvenile warrant suspect was in the passenger seat.

The juvenile suspect fled the car and the driver led police on a chase before crashing into a vehicle at the intersection of Saw Mill Run Boulevard and West Liberty Avenue. A good Samaritan helped to pin the car door so the driver couldn’t exit.

Police recovered a large sum of cash, a firearm, 20 bricks of heroin, cell phones, and digital scales.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re giving it a good fight,” officer Luffey said.

Multiple residents in attendance voiced complaints about drivers speeding through residential areas and failing to obey stop signs. Among the areas mentioned were the intersection of Parkfield Street and Copperfield Avenue, Agnew Road, and Valera Avenue.

Officer Luffey said she will request traffic units be assigned to the problem locations.

Several announcements were also made at the meeting.

The annual Communities Against Crime event will be held on July 26 at the Dairy District Pavilion. Individual block watch groups are encouraged to attend and set up a table.

A community flea market will take place on June 30 at the Dairy District Pavilion. Registration is free, but community members must register a table by calling 412-884-1400, ext. 106.

Linda Donahue, board member of the Carrick Community Council, announced the organization will hold a meeting in August following a few months of little to no activity. The organization still plans to hold its annual board election in November.

The next Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch meeting will be held on July 2 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place in a new location, at the Birmingham United Church of Christ on Carrick Avenue.


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