South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 council discusses gun violence prevention

 

Last updated 5/12/2022 at 10:25am



The April 28 monthly meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council (Z3PSC) began with the report of Ian Reynolds of the city's Safer Together.

He said leaving guns unattended in cars can be very dangerous. Windows can be broken into to access the guns, he said.

"Please don't leave guns in vehicles," he said.

He also reported a walk-out that day by some Brashear High School students advocating for change at their school was peaceful.

He said he plans to talk to them and receive feedback.

Z3PSC President Liz Style said the South Pittsburgh Peacemakers have worked at Brashear, and could be good contacts for Mr. Reynolds.

Ms. Style also said she read in the "STOP the Violence" newsletter about a seminar on responsible gun ownership. At its conclusion, free gun safes were distributed to audience members.

Mr. Reynolds said he would like to see the same presentation in all of the zones.

The STOP the Violence Office attempts to promote, assist and connect the anti-violence activities sponsored by the City of Pittsburgh with other governmental and private anti-violence activities and with citizens who want to eliminate violence. 

Mr. Reynolds said residents should email stoptheviolence@pittsburghpa.com for problems in their communities. The email address is monitored 24/7, he said, but it does not take the place of calling 911.

To a question of who is in charge of the email address, the response was Jay Gilmer, coordinator of the city's STOP the Violence Office.

Mr. Reynolds said residents may also subscribe to the STOP the Violence newsletter.

Next, Ms. Style said residents have concerns that there is no police presence at community meetings. Staffing issues due to retirements is one reason.

One solution is for community groups to attend the Zone 3 meetings, she said, as a police official always attends to discuss crime and answer questions.

If a community group would like a police presence at their meeting, a request should be submitted to the police department two weeks in advance.

 Ms. Style also said to let her know if a Zone 3 group would like safety vests, say for clean-ups.

 The next speaker was Zone 3 supervisor Sgt. Walter Dusch, who was filling in for Zone 3 Commander John Fisher.

Ms. Style asked if an officer does not respond in a way that was expected, who can a resident call?

 Sgt. Dusch said to call the zone at 412-488-8338 and leave a message, and someone will respond.

In crime trends, he reported crime is up in the country and city.

 To a question if vehicles blocking, say, corners or exits, merits a 911 call, he said if vehicles are impeding traffic, blocking driveways, and more, to call 911.

To a question about the party at an Airbnb rental property on the North Side in which two teenagers were killed, he said he knows of no plan in place to deal with Airbnbs at this time. 

 But if there are too many people in one structure surpassing city occupancy limits, or it becomes too rowdy, it can be shut down.

 Airbnb is an online company which provides a platform for members to rent out their properties or rooms to guests.

 Ms. Style said there is a strategy in the works to deal with Airbnbs.

 She also said if you witness trays of cakes being delivered, or sound systems being brought in, keep an eye on what transpires as you should call 911 if the event becomes rowdy.

An attendee said she has a sidewalk café permit for her business, and asked for guidance regarding all of the people who descend on the South Side.

Sgt. Dusch said people can stand on the road. If they park on the sidewalk, the police can do something. But they cannot act if someone is simply standing in front of her establishment.

 Ms. Style said there is concern that there is no policing strategy for the summer. She suggested residents meet with community leaders, and then Councilman Bruce Kraus and other city officials, and demand a strategy for loitering, violence, and more.

"We don't know what's going to happen," Ms. Style said.

 The café owner said she contacted nighttime economy manager Allison Harnden, who will contact others and arrange "something to happen," she said.

 A question was next asked about an underage party on East Carson St. which drew throngs of revelers into the street and "was seen as a free-for-all in the South Side."

Sgt. Dusch said when an officer arrived, he was outnumbered by about 1 to 200. Once other officers began to arrive the crowd started to disperse, he said.

 He was not aware of any arrests.

 He also said how long crowds are allowed in the street depends on the situation.

 Another attendee said that in Carrick, people walk up and down the neighborhood trying cars and houses to enter. Should 911 be called?

 Sgt. Dusch said yes, if they are trying door handles, call 911.

 With cars, "don't leave anything in your car," he said.

 A concern was raised about heightened activity on East Carson St. with the warmer weather.

 Sgt. Dusch said 18 to 20 officers can be patrolling but sometimes it is not enough.

"We are trying the best we can with what we have," he said.

 To a complaint about traffic on Bausman St., tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, dump/gas trucks, and more are major problems. The attendee said there are now speed bumps, but it makes the situation worse as the vehicles "fly over it."

She has called 311 and Mr. Kraus' office about the matter.

There is also a "no trucks except delivery trucks" sign, but it is not effective.

Sgt. Dusch said the planning and zoning departments might get involved to redirect traffic.

 Another problem is that Bausman St. became a detour last summer, and so more motorists are aware of it as a shortcut.

Chrisarah Johnson, of the Mayor's Office, said it is unlikely there will be more traffic calming as there are now speed bumps. But the office is trying to find a solution, she said.

On another issue, an attendee said there is someone on Facebook who wants to form a group of those who carry firearms. She likened them to vigilantes who want to form their own force.

Sgt. Dusch said to contact the commander directly about this.

Next, an attendee said a deer blind was erected in a wooded area in her neighborhood, sparking fears of hunting there.

Sgt. Dusch said to contact the state Game Commission.

 Ms. Johnson next reported the city is hiring, with lifeguard and manager openings. If they are filled, more pools can open this summer.

 CeaseFirePA Western Pennsylvania manager Josh Fleitman said the April 26 Gun Safety Advocacy Day in Harrisburg to demand action on stronger gun laws drew over 200 people.

CeaseFirePA is the largest and longest-serving anti-gun violence group in Pennsylvania.

For more information on CeaseFirePA, visit: https://www.ceasefirepa.org/about-us/ .

Mr. Fleitman will speak at the next Z3PSC meeting at 6 p.m. on May 26 via Zoom on "The Multi-Faceted Issue of Gun Violence."

Prior to all Zone 3 meetings, questions on any public safety/quality of life issue may be sent to: zone3PSC1@gmail. com, and they will be addressed.

 

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