A new Pittsburgh police unit with citywide jurisdiction has been formed to target high-crime areas with handpicked officers from each of the city’s five precincts, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 21-member Street Response Unit is considered a pilot program. The program has been kept largely quiet, with word of it percolating slowly through the ranks. Some supervisors were unaware of it; others worried that it would cut into their already depleted ranks. Each marked squad car assigned to the unit is expected to carry three uniformed officers. There also will be a police wagon and an unmarked surveillance vehicle.
The unit will enter some neighborhoods where violence has been quelled by the Impact Squad, an aggressive group of undercover narcotics detectives sent to root out drugs, guns, and violent criminals from the city’s most dangerous areas. Some officials believe that the city’s most hardened criminals fear only the Impact Squad and do not carry the same respect for uniformed officers. After Impact Squad detectives hit an area, they eventually leave and the problems begin all over again. The Street Response Unit will try to be unpredictable, aggressive, and flexible. Sometimes officers will walk beats; other times they will perform surveillance.