South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 Council reviews and looks toward the future

 

February 25, 2020



The February 17 regular business meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council (Z3PSC) featured elections, crime report, and the 2020 meeting schedule.

It began with guest speaker Anthony Kobak, a new senior planner with the Strategic Planning Division, Dept. of City Planning. He previously worked in planning in Ohio, for a total of 13 years of experience in the field.

He follows Felipe Palomo, who left the position to become project manager of facilities for the Dept. of Public Works.

Mr. Kobak said the city has seven planners with neighborhood assignments. His assignment encompasses the South Side Flats and Slopes, Arlington, Arlington Heights, St. Clair, Mt. Oliver City, Allentown, Knoxville, Bon Air, Beltzhoover, Mt. Washington, and Duquesne Heights.

He said Mayor Peduto strongly wants neighborhood-based planning.

To a question about Registered Community Organization (RCO)s, Mr. Kobak said they are “very useful.”

The designation gives formal status to community organizations that register with the City of Pittsburgh, and provides benefits to those organizations. The benefits include notification of public hearings, guaranteed meetings with developers/applicants, placement on official brochures, and more.

“It gives you a seat at the table with developers,” he said.

He said he would return periodically to update Z3PSC members of activities.

Next, President Liz Style distributed information on Z3PSC 2019 accomplishments and 2020 goals.

The accomplishments include: seven open general meetings; hosting one city-wide public safety meeting; holding two board meetings; and hosting the fall city-wide public safety meeting.

The Communications Committee co-chairs and secretary developed a d-list; initiated a Facebook page and monthly newsletter; and developed a membership outreach strategy.

The Z3PSC held information presentations during general meetings on: investigating complaints against public safety personnel; a free web app that provides easy-to-use listings of services for people experiencing homelessness; and a city-wide bike trail plan.

The group also partnered with the Carrick/Overbrook Community Block Watch to promote a zone-wide informational session on citizens’ response to an active threat.

The Z3PSC also received a grant of $2,229 from Love My Neighbor to support the Picnic with Police last summer, along with additional support from councilmen Bruce Kraus and Anthony Coghill, Neighbors on the Mount, and anonymous residents.

The organization will also apply for various grants this year.

Other goals this year include holding seven open general meetings; initiating membership outreach strategy; issuing monthly newsletter; working with public safety and other city departments to schedule presentations at four general meetings; and more.

Another goal is to reinstate a by-laws task force to review and complete the Z3PSC by-laws.

Also, to continue to develop education partnerships, such as partnering with the Allentown CDC Public Safety Committee to support six zone-wide educational sessions throughout the year. The Z3PSC would like to partner with other groups for similar purposes, as requested.

Another goal is to continue to provide information and support to those wishing to form neighborhood public safety groups, such as block watches. Providing National Night Out information is also planned.

Regarding membership outreach, emails will be sent to community groups inviting them to the Z3PSC’s next general meeting on March 16.

The Z3PSC also received $2,000 from City Council, as did each of the six public safety councils, for expenses. The same appropriation was received in 2019.

The second annual Picnic with Police is tentatively scheduled for July 18 at the Arlington Spray Park. Volunteers are needed to join the Planning Committee, to recruit other volunteers, to do outreach, and to work the event.

The upcoming regular business meetings of the Z3PSC will be held on March 16, May 18, June 15, July 20, Sept. 8, and Nov. 16. The latter is an end-of-the-year wrap-up and celebration.

Ms. Style also announced the organization has $364.23 in its bank account.

She told attendees that, if heading an organization, to consider doing something with the Z3PSC. Email her if interested: zone3psc1@gmail.com.

In elections, the incumbents were reelected unanimously: Ms. Style, president; Roy Blankenship, vice president; and Rose Nelson, treasurer. There is no secretary.

In public safety, Commander Karen Dixon reported there was a 6.2 percent decrease in Part 1 and II crimes. The five-year trend is an overall 18.9 percent decrease.

Part 1 property crimes are going down. Commander Dixon reminded attendees not to leave property visible in cars as thieves will smash windows.

She also reported 11 new police officers were added that day, bringing the Zone 3 total to 113.

“It is the highest number since I arrived here,” she said. The zone also has eight full-time detectives.

To an attendee’s comment of stolen and long-time parked cars being a problem, Commander Dixon said officer Rich O’Neill is on this if the car is a public safety hazard. Call 311 to reach him.

Next, Donna Williams, block watch development and support committee chair, said her block watches have caught on cameras teens who are out at all hours of the night. She tells them to call Zone 3.

She also reported there are numerous car break-ins in her Carrick neighborhood.

Mrs. Williams said she would like to see a representative from every zone at the Z3PSC meetings so dates are not overlapped, and more. She said when she has neighborhood clean-ups there are sometimes overlaps.

If the dates vary, groups can assist each other. “It would be nice if we can come out and help, too,” she said of Z3PSC volunteers.

Mrs. Williams said a lot of neighborhoods say they want to know their police officers. She told them active people know their officers. Commander Dixon said last summer’s Picnic with Police was great for that.

Next, Officer Christine Luffey announced there will be a “Coffee with Cops” in South Side sometime in April.

She also reported an elderly couple in Carrick was scammed out of thousands of dollars by a contractor. His workers were supposed to repair their roof but now, instead, water gets in when it rains.

An attendee said her elderly mother lives alone. The attendee tells her not to answer the telephone, but she does to “hear what they have to say.”

Next, Jay Gilmer, of the city’s Dept. of Public Safety, reported the student police academy starts in March. The free, 15-week program is for high school aged youngsters.

The citizen’s police academy began in February. It will be held again in the fall.

The next Z3PSC meeting will be on March 16 at Knoxville Library, 400 Brownsville Rd.

The guest speaker will be Ian Reynolds, disruptive properties coordinator, Dept. of Public Safety.

The special topic will be: Zone 3 Public Safety Council Review: Oh, the things we do! How can we do more for you?

 

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