South Side was quiet in August, public safety strategy to continue
Last updated 9/27/2022 at 5:20pm
The September meeting of the South Side Planning Forum, the final meeting being hosted by City of Pittsburgh’s Mayor’s Office, featured updates from Neighborhood Services Manager Rebekkah Renallo and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor Felicity Williams.
Ms. Ranallo reviewed Mayor Ganey’s Plan for Peace in South Side, a three-prong approach including law enforcement, building code enforcement and fire code enforcement. Using data, they have been measuring outcomes to align resources and strategies each month.
She noted since a high point in June, when the Plan for Peace was unveiled, South Side Flats homicides and non-fatal shootings have trended down. In August of 2021 there were 12 violent Part 1 crimes and this year there were only four Part 1 crimes in August.
“We are continuing to see good results and hear good feedback about how things are going in the South Side and we want to uplift the work of our Public Safety Department and the community for continuing and being rooted in consistency and seeing this plan through. We believe it’s starting to work,” Ms. Ranallo said.
The police saturation patrols have been continuing on weekends with 15 officers and a supervisor per shift on duty. All officers are on-foot starting at 1:30 a.m. In addition, there have also been detectives from Zone 3 and other Police Zones assigned as needed.
The saturation patrols extend beyond the 12th to 18th streets corridor to include 10th Street as well as side streets, alleys and parking lots. Detectives have also been patrolling the side streets and parking lots for additional support.
Two to three motorcycle officers have also been working a “tag and tow detail.”
“If there are other issues that require even more officers, we have other zones on standby and willing to assist with this effort,” she said. “There are a lot of police resources being dedicated to the South Side on weekends.”
Responding to questions submitted prior to the meeting, Ms. Ranallo said there were no major issues related to the reopening of Foxtail and Skybar over the weekend. Police reported a little bit of an uptick in crowds outside of the nightspots, but no major confrontations or issues.
She said EMBR is continuing to commit to the approach of closing their doors at midnight, but allow the patrons already inside stay until 2 a.m.
In June and July, the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections (PL&I) in cooperation with the Bureau of Fire ordered a Fire and Life Safety Sweep of all commercial businesses in the 1500 to 1900 blocks of East Carson Street. They performed 65 inspections and opened 54 cases for approximately 84 violations. Approximately 20 violations remained where they may be working through the remediation process or waiting for another inspection by PL&I.
“Unfortunately, some businesses may be headed to court if they don’t remediate in the required time,” she added.
Ms. Ranallo said the Department of Nighttime Economy held several training sessions in August including: Active Shooter Response, Stop the Bleeding and AED Training. De-escalation training is also scheduled for September.
She said although this will be the last South Side Planning Forum meeting the Mayor’s Office will present on this caliber or scale, it doesn’t mean they won’t be providing data or engaging with the community anymore. They plan to engage through the varied mediums already available in South Side including the Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting, through http://pittsburghpa.gov/publicsafety/blotterview.html and through the Uniform Crime Reporting Dashboard at https://bit.ly/3xzhMRq
The Zone 3 Public Safety Council meets on the fourth Thursday of the month. The new commander of Zone 3, Christopher Ragland, will be attending the September meeting. To sign up to attend, email email@example.com.
Ms. Williams added even though they won’t be attending the Planning Forum meetings, their efforts aren’t ending.
“We want to continue those efforts. We haven’t looked at ending those efforts,” she said.
Responding to another prior submitted question concerning parking enforcement in the neighborhood, she said there hasn’t been a violent interaction with a parking enforcement officer in South Side, but there had been an “unfortunate incident” that no one should have to go through.
“We are fully onboard with going back to enforcement in South Side. We want to make sure our officers are fully protected,” said Gwen Bolden from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. “We understand, probably more so than anyone, the importance of enforcement going along with rules and regulation.
“We know that if there’s not enforcement, people are not going to pay. They’ll figure out quickly there’s no enforcement going on.”
The Parking Authority is working on a pilot program in surface lots in South Side that will allow them to ticket by mail. Testing is now going on and the program should begin soon.
Ms. Bolden said in August the Parking Authority read 17,000 license plates in South Side and issued 440 tickets.
State Representative Jessica Benham said there are no issues with the state concerning issuing tickets by mail but noted tickets will be sent to the registered address for the vehicle. She noted that with students returning, a ticket could end up being sent to the student’s parents if that’s where the vehicle is registered.