South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 safety council plans for Picnic with the Police and NNO


Last updated 6/27/2019 at 9:13am

Two upcoming events – Picnic with the Police and National Night Out (NNO) – were the focus of the June 17 meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council held at the Knoxville Library.

The family-oriented Picnic with the Police will be held from 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. on June 29 at the spray park, or "the fort," in Arlington.

On Aug. 6, the annual NNO, designed to advance the importance of neighborhood unity and community-public safety relationships, will be held locally in various neighborhoods as porch gatherings, block parties, festivals, and more.

Regarding the Picnic with the Police, there will be free food, Pirate Parrot, deejay, children's activities, tables with information, and more. The bomb squad, fire trucks, SWAT, EMS, police motorcycles, and patrol cars will also be present, as will a police horse and dog.

Park ranger Zachary Zelazny and his partner, Aubrey Thompson, will distribute leashes and more, and have something for children.

Activities include: playing basketball with the police; learning CPR from the EMS; meeting a bomb squad robot; and more.

The purpose of the picnic is to bring police and public safety bureaus together with residents to develop and sustain mutual understanding and respect to maintain a safer Zone 3.

Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon said "officers are excited to come and help."

Ms. Style asked attendees to hand out picnic informational flyers to children in parks to take home.

Funding for the event is from a $2,029 Love My Neighbor grant to the public safety council, with most of the funds going to printing promotional materials and the rental of tables, tents, and other items. The group has a year to spend the rest of the money.

As the public safety council is not a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, the Birmingham Foundation is serving as its fiduciary.

There was also a donation for the picnic from the "Neighbors on the Mount."

Regarding NNO, block watches are encouraged to register their neighborhood's NNO event with the city's Dept. of Public Safety. The address is:

Those groups which register will receive information, ensure a visit from public safety personnel, and be eligible to request barriers and "no parking" signs at no charge.

NNO events may be held on days other than Aug. 6 if another day is preferred by the neighborhood. Knoxville's NNO, for instance, will be held on Aug. 3.

If the group wants their street blocked or closed during NNO, whichever the day, a request for a permit should be sent to public safety outreach coordinator Jay Gilmer at

A blocked street must be accessible for EMS vehicles, busses, and neighbors. All affected properties must be notified, and the information posted on poles.

Barriers are one way to close a street while leaving one lane open to traffic. The barriers will be dropped off for block watch members to erect and take down again.

The public safety council's Block Watch Development and Support Committee chair, Donna Williams, has been working with the Safer Together Pittsburgh Community Partnership Program to develop a packet for those who want to start a block watch, and for block watch captains. The information will also be on the online website, when it is available.

A street must be registered to receive a packet, and for public safety personnel to help you get started. The police also need to know in case they want to alert the neighborhood to something going on.

Call Ms. Williams at 412-884-8359 and tell her the street name, your name, and how many people are expected at the block watch. She will then attend and give a talk along with Officer Christine Luffey.

In the board report that began the meeting, Public Safety Council president Liz Style said she and Communications Committee co-chair Jess Benham attended the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace annual forum on May 31. They will be writing a report for the public safety council.

"It was a good meeting on trauma and how it affects individuals and communities.

"It really takes a village to help reduce trauma and help heal," Ms. Style said.

Next, in the treasurer's report she read, Ms. Style said the public safety council wants to open a bank account. To do so, the name on the group's EIN must be the same as that on its bylaws.

Ms. Benham then motioned to change the name to the Zone 3 Public Safety Council on the bylaws. The motion passed.

In the communications committee report, Ms. Benham said a newsletter has been completed, and will be sent to the group's email list. Events for listing in an upcoming newsletter should be emailed to her:

Next, Ms. Williams reported she received new block watch signs that can be distributed to all of the block watches. The signs are laminated.

She said she met with neighbors on Leland and Concordia who want to start a block watch. There is also a new block watch on Westmont.

An attendee commented South Side block watches, in conjunction with South Watch and the South Side Community Council, can be very effective. The group "nipped in the bud" a plan for eight tenants to move into a single-family home, he said.

Public safety council vice-president Roy Blankenship said the Beltzhoover Consensus Group would like to receive information and have someone attend their meetings, as well as their attending the public safety council meetings. Beulah Baptist Church will also be getting involved.

"Our mission is to get everyone in the Hilltop, and we are starting to get slowly and surely," he said.

Ms. Style said the public safety council is looking at what they can do to inform as many people as possible during the Picnic with the Police.

"We want to benefit all neighborhoods in what we do," she said.

Mr. Blankenship also raised the matter of July 4 fireworks.

While fireworks are now legal, Commander Dixon said they cannot be set off within 150-feet of an occupied building. Call 911 if you feel your safety is at risk, or if it is a late hour.

When you call the police, tell them where the fireworks are being set off so they can readily arrive at the site.

Ms. Benham said it is her understanding the only space in Zone 3 outside the 150-feet constraint is cemeteries, and permission is needed from the owner to set off fireworks on private property.

In the public safety report, Commander Dixon said the zone is prepping now for July 4.

As for crime statistics, she said there have been some vehicle break-ins, but nothing else of major concern.

Ms. Williams said the prior day on Kirk Ave. she witnessed a man being stopped by the police who was then ranting and raving at them. "They were handling it beautifully," she said of the officers.

While the man continued screaming at them, "they were smooth," she said.

Ms. Style said if a resident feels an officer has not behaved his best, contact the Office of Municipal Investigations (OMI) at 412-255-2804. That is preferable to posting on social media, she said.

If a city employee has done well, call 311 to convey the compliment.

Commander Dixon said she loves delivering positive email.

In announcements, "Communities Against Crime" will meet in Carrick on July 30 in the dairy district pavilion.

A Moms and Cops Provider Workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. on June 27 at the Auberle Training Facility, 1101 Hartman St., in McKeesport. Call 412-323-7858 for more information on the free event.

Moms and Cops provides an educational model for early detection of child neglect and abuse and domestic violence. The goal of the Pittsburgh program is to educate city police officers regarding available resources and connecting those in need with appropriate resources.

It was begun by the late Pittsburgh Police commander, Gwen Elliott.

Citiparks' Summer Food Service program provides healthy breakfasts, lunches and/or snacks to children to age 18. The program operates at about 80 locations through Aug. 16. Call 412-244-3911 for information and locations.

The next Zone 3 meeting will be at 6 p.m. on July 15 at a location to be determined.


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