Responding to a recent spate of violence in Pittsburgh’s Homewood area, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl yesterday outlined proposals to combat crime, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Some people who must deal with it on a daily basis expressed doubt that the ideas would make much of a difference. Ravenstahl said the city would step up beat patrols and consider using surveillance cameras to try to stem the violence. Some who live in the most hard-hit neighborhoods believe the mayor’s new programs do nothing more than put a Band-Aid on a problem that requires much more. Business owner John Brewer, a Homewood resident for 60 years, said he sees nothing in the mayor’s plans to address the root causes of the violence.
Previously, beat officers would walk a foot patrol for 90 minutes each shift. They will now spend several hours each day on foot patrol in business districts around the city, said police Chief Nate Harper. The foot patrols will start today with 30 officers in high-crime areas across the city. Rashad Byrdsong of the Community Empowerment Association is worried about social neglect, as well. Blight, lack of educational and job training opportunities, recreational facilities, affordable housing and economic development are all things Byrdsong said are lacking in some city neighborhoods. “We don’t just want more police,” he said. Ravenstahl also touted surveillance cameras. Citing Chicago’s experience, he said there has been a 76 percent reduction in narcotics calls and a 17 percent drop in serious crime in seven months there. “There’s only so much the police force can do,” he said. “We have to be smarter about the way we approach public safety.”