South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Block watch questions if police reports are always being filed

 

January 14, 2020



The Carrick and Overbrook communities continue to see lower crime rates in recent months, but not all block watch members are convinced victims are reporting crimes or that officers are consistently filing reports.

At last week’s monthly block watch meeting, Zone 3 officer Christine Luffey distributed monthly crime statistics which listed all police-reported incidents in Carrick and Overbrook from the previous 30 day. The report was about half its usual length; a good indication that crime was significantly down in December.

“Normally for Carrick we have two to two-and-a-half full pages of reportable incidents,” officer Luffey said. “If you look through the stats, it’s only one page.”

However, Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch organizer Donna McManus said she doesn’t believe police are consistently filing police reports and it’s becoming a “serious problem in the zone.”

“I don’t know what the breakdown is when it comes to officers [submitting] reports when community members report incidents,” Ms. McManus said. “This could be one potential reason why crime appears to have decreased.”

Ms. McManus said she and other block watch members have attempted to follow-up on police reports after witnessing crime or police activity, but in some instances, the reports were not filed. Additionally, she said similar complaints have been made at the Zone 3 Public Safety Council meetings from residents in Knoxville.

Officer Luffey said officers generally have some level of discretion when deciding whether to file a report. For example, when responding to a noise complaint, an officer may ask a resident to turn down loud music and decide not to file a report.

However, reports should always be submitted when there is a victim associated with the crime. Officer Luffey said residents should ask for an officer’s name and badge number when submitting an incident. She also said the issue would be discussed with the Zone 3 commander.

Following the discussion about police reports, Officer Luffey went on to provide specific details on four cases she believes are of high interest to the community.

The first case involved the arrest of three juveniles who officers believe were behind a series of assaults and robberies in Carrick.

According to the report, the suspects attempted to steal a purse from an 83-year-old woman in the 2000 block of Brownsville Road on December 10. After the victim called the police, a plain clothes detective arrested a 15-year-old African American male who matched the description provided.

Police were eventually able to arrest two additional juvenile suspects, and all three are facing robbery and criminal conspiracy charges. Officer Luffey said police believe these are the same juveniles responsible for the recent string of crimes, as there haven’t been any similar incidents reported since the arrests.

However, a block watch member said she is familiar with two other recent assaults led by juveniles, but in both cases, the victims were too afraid to report the incidents to police.

Officer Luffey said residents who wish to report crimes anonymously are welcome to meet with her privately after block watch meetings or call her directly.

“If we don’t know about things like this, then we can’t help,” officer Luffey said.

The next case involved a drug arrest on December 12 at 1:40 p.m. Narcotics detectives received a tip a male suspect was selling drugs throughout Carrick.

Detectives staged an undercover, controlled drug buy with the suspect, who allegedly agreed to sell the detectives four grams of marijuana. Police met the 41-year-old suspect in the 1900 block of Brownsville Road and he was arrested after drugs and money were exchanged with the officer.

An aggravated assault that took place in the 2600 block of Brownsville Road on December 15 at 1:30 a.m. is still under investigation. According to police, a 43-year-old victim was physically assaulted and tased in the back by two suspects following a verbal altercation inside the Tower 29 bar.

The final case discussed involved the armed robbery of a 34-year-old pizza delivery driver on December 25 at 1 a.m. Vinny’s Pizza Shop in Brookline received a delivery order for a home in the 300 block of Parkfield Street.

When the delivery driver arrived, he was approached from behind by two male suspects who pointed a gun to the back of his head and demanded money. The suspects fled with $300 in cash.

Police were able to pull the cell phone number of the person who placed the pizza order and also received surveillance footage from a nearby home, but the incident is still under investigation.

Following the crime report, Ms. McManus announced several dates for 2020 Carrick Community Council (CCC) sponsored events. The annual Carrick Easter Egg Hunt will be April 4 and the annual Halloween party will take place on October 24.

Ms. McManus also said the CCC is planning a “good old-fashioned reunion” party at Phillip’s Park, which is set to take place at some point this summer.

CCC board president Sherry Brown said big announcements will be made at the next CCC membership meeting, but a date has not yet been set.

The next meeting of the Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch will take place on Monday, Feb. 3 at the HEAR Corp center, 25 Carrick Avenue.

 

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