South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 safety council reviews picnic, looks forward to National Night Out

 


Celebrating the success of the Picnic with the Police kicked off the July 15 meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council at the Knoxville Library.

The family-oriented Picnic with the Police was held on June 29 at the spray park, or “the Fort,” in Arlington.

Zone 3 Public Safety Council president Liz Style called the event “very successful” with about 250 participants.

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

There was 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 were also present, as was a police horse and dog.

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

Ms. Style asked meeting attendees what went well, and what could be done better next year. She passed out surveys on the question for them to fill out.

She thanked those whose efforts/donations made it all possible, such as Neighbors on the Mount, Councilman Bruce Kraus, Councilman Anthony Coghill, Neighborhood Allies, South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA)., and the Love My Neighbor grant program which helped fund the event.

She also thanked the core planning committee of the Public Safety Council, and Zone 3 officers Christine Luffey and Commander Karen Dixon, and the roughly 40 officers who attended the picnic.

“It was a great day,” Commander Dixon said.

Ms. Style also thanked those who set up the tables/tents and more, served food, and more.

During the introductions, attendees mentioned what went well and what could be improved next year. Responses included: “great blend of community and police”; “fun meeting people from the other communities”; “impressed with the young police officers”; “the deejay was incredible”; and “I had a blast – it was a really good time.”

Suggestions for next year included more publicity to attract more people from distant parts of the zone, and more water as the initial supply ran out, and the SSSNA donated from their stash. Better tent anchors were also needed as the tents broke away in the wind and had to retrieved.

Planning for next year’s event will begin in a few months.

In announcements, National Night Out (NNO) is Tuesday, Aug. 6. The annual event is designed to advance the importance of neighborhood unity and community-public safety relationships, and will be held locally in various neighborhoods as porch gatherings, block parties, festivals, and more.

Block watches are encouraged to register their neighborhood’s NNO event with the city’s Dept. of Public Safety. The address is: pittsburghpa.gov/national-night-out/index.html.

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.

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 Jay.Gilmer@pittsburghpa.gov.

NNO events may be held on days other than Aug. 6 if another day is preferred by the neighborhood. For instance, Communities Against Crime in Carrick will be held in the Dairy District on July 30 from 5:30 - 8 p.m.

The Knoxville block party will be held on Aug. 3 from 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. in the 100 block of Jucunda St.

The Bon Air NNO will be on Aug. 6 from 6 - 8 p.m. in the Bon Air Tot Lot Parklet at Conneston Ave. and Calle St. Light refreshments will be served.

The Mt. Oliver/St. Clair block party will be held on Aug. 10.

The Arlington/East Slopes NNO will be on Aug. 6 from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Cobden St. basketball park.

Next, guest speaker Lorita Gillespie discussed the city’s BigBurgh.com, or “Pittsburgh’s Safety Net Web-App,” a free web app providing easy-to-use listings of free services.

The mobile-optimized website can be viewed on any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer with a data plan or internet connectivity.

While it began to help those experiencing homeless issues, it has been expanded with information on free social services, food pantries, hot meals, clinics, transportation services, clothing, housing assistance, financial/ legal help, jobs, education, and more.

One does not have to give name, address, or any personal information to access the app.

Currently, BigBurgh has more than 170 free services available from 80 different providers within the city.

Among the services are a free dental clinic on July 26-27 at the Highmark Gate at PPG Paints Arena, 1001 5th Ave. The clinic opens at 7 a.m., and no appointment is required. Open to children and adults.

Rainbow Kitchen Community Services, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Vision Foundation and Vision Benefits of America, offers eye exams and eyeglasses. Call Renee at 412-464-1892 for more information.

 The county Health Department’s Immunization Clinic provides free hepatis A vaccinations to under- or uninsured county residents. Call 412-578-8060 for more information. No appointments necessary. The clinic is located in the Hartley-Rose Building, 425 First Ave., 4th floor.

There are also healthcare for the homeless medical clinics. Call 412-244-4775 for information.

Resolve Crisis Services offer 24-hour phone support; 24-hour mobile crisis teams; 24-hour walk-in center; and more. Call 1-888-796-8226.

Ms. Style said she will hand out some information about BigBurgh.com on National Night Out.

In business/reports, treasurer Rose Nelson reported the group has $343.23 in its bank account. At the next meeting more information will be provided, such as a picnic breakdown.

Block Watch Committee Chair Donna Williams reported three new block watches have been set up on Charles, Westmont, and Valera. She passed out information on NNO at the Knoxville picnic and other places.

In crime trends, Commander Dixon reported there were 161 Part 1 crimes in the zone last month, with the “busiest” sector being the South Side Flats. Flats’ crimes included retail thefts, thefts of items left on bars, robberies, auto-related thefts, and more.

An attendee raised a concern about youngsters’ loitering at night outside a store on Warrington Ave.

“There’s a lot of things going on,” she said.

Another attendee said while car break-ins are down in the report, he sees a lot of on-line posts about break-ins. Commander Dixon said the reason is that people do not want to file reports.

To a question about squatters in Carrick, as people are pitching tents and living in them, Commander Dixon said to call 911 if it is in, say, a city park. But if it is on private property, nothing can be done.

Public Safety Council vice-president Roy Blankenship brought up some of the violence on the Hilltop lately, and said good people in the area are trying to address it, such as Rich Carrington and the MAD DADS group, by sitting with the youngsters to find out what is going on.

Making eye contact “goes a long way,” he said.

The next Zone 3 meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 at a location to be determined. There will be no August meeting.

 

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