(PITTSBURGH) July 11, 2012 Standing in front of the new IGA grocery store in the Beechview business district, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and City safety officials today recognized the City’s successful efforts to reduce crime and encouraged more residents to partner with officers to help watch their blocks, as the state’s and city’s burglary rates have recently spiked.
“Our three-pronged approach to public safety has resulted in historic crime lows, and crime rate reductions far below the national average,” Ravenstahl said. “While we are proud that our strategy works, we are ever more vigilant in our efforts to keep crime low. We recognize that the more active our residents are, the safer we will be.”
The Mayor’s crime reduction strategy consists of investing in technology, equipment and training to improve officers’ ability to crack down on crime, creating and promoting more community-oriented policing tools and focused neighborhood economic development and blight reduction.
The Mayor’s Neighborhood Camera System is deployed throughout the City, and cameras were recently installed in the Beechview business district. Other safety investments include in-car computers and printers, allowing officers to enter and print reports and tickets from inside the vehicle, improving their efficiency and safety. Millions of dollars have been invested to modernize and improve the police bureau, with $3 million invested this year to buy new patrol cars and safety equipment.
“While overall crime has decreased by 25 percent since 2006, safety agencies throughout the state are seeing an increase in burglaries and Pittsburgh is no exception,” said Public Safety Director Michael Huss. “Our police do a great job and have made several arrests in serial burglary cases, but we need more block watches and informed residents to familiarize themselves on how to prevent burglaries and help us protect their blocks and property.”
The neighborhood’s grocery store, IGA, opened last September. Owner Ron Levick remarked on the neighborhood’s safety and transformation.
“I’m extremely appreciative of the Mayor’s efforts to improve this business district and I’m happy to report that our Market on Broadway IGA is doing great. We’re pleased with the overwhelming community support that we’ve received.”
“We know that where there are more active block watches, there is less crime,” Ravenstahl said. “Our Block Watch in a Box toolkit makes it easy for residents to set up a safety watch in their neighborhood and connects them with all of the resources they need to be successful.”
“The burglaries we are experiencing are not segregated to a few neighborhoods, they are both random and planned acts,” said Police Chief Nate Harper. “We know that communities who work closely with their crime prevention officers achieve success in combating crime, and we believe that the presence of more block watches will reduce crime.”
In the Carrick neighborhood, residents experienced a spate of increased crime and worked together and with their crime prevention officer to implement neighborhood block watches. In the first five months of this year, reports of robberies, aggravated assaults and burglaries all decreased by 6 percent, 35 percent and 17 percent respectively as compared to the first five months of 2011. Reports of weapons violations decreased by 38 percent. This led to the Mayor’s plan to encourage more citizens to adopt their blocks.
“By looking out for each other and building stronger relationships with police, neighbors in Carrick are feeling safer knowing their streets are more secure as a result of their vigilance,” Ravenstahl said.
“The third part of our strategy involves ensuring that Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance – marked by job growth, economic development and neighborhood renewal – is reaching places in the east, north, west and south. Here in Beechview, we installed brighter LED lights in the business district and, through the URA, helped to bring back the neighborhood grocery store and invest in more small businesses, like the popular Crested Duck Charterie. These investments foster an environment that is conducive to renewal and safety.”
To receive a Block Watch in a Box or learn more, visit pittsburghpa.gov/publicsafety. Also, police have posted tips to prevent burglaries on the public safety website. Key tips include: making your home look occupied when you are not home and locking outside doors and windows; keeping outdoor items such as grills or lawn mowers out of sight; using a secure lock on your shed; and investing in exterior lighting.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687