An ambitious Pittsburgh crime-fighting strategy aimed at reducing the homicide rate is too narrowly focused on gang violence and needs to widen its scope, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says a draft report points to flaws in the concept and the execution of the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime, a comprehensive approach that enlists law enforcement, social services, and community leaders in an effort to quell gang gunplay, which police have said accounts for most of the city’s violence. The homicide rate has not declined since the program started.
The message of the program is simple. Police and victims confront gang members at a “call-in” meeting and tell them to stop killing or face massive group punishment the next time someone pulls a trigger. Service providers then offer an array of help. City police hardly relied on a report by the University of Cincinnati Policing Institute that identified 35 “violent groups” in Pittsburgh and determined that 69 percent of the city’s homicides from 2007 to early 2010 were “group-related.” The local law enforcement team relied on its own intelligence that showed only two of the 12 homicides that happened in the city during the first quarter of 2011 were “gang-related.”