Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force comes together to help communities with violent crime

PITTSBURGH — Over the last five years, the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force has arrested more than 250 people, gotten 230 guns off the streets and seized drugs that have lead to deadly overdoses in and around Pittsburgh.

The task force is made up of the FBI, Sheriff’s Office and Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s and Allegheny County Adult probation also is on the task force.

“The planning for (arrests) really goes back years. It starts with us working with the partners on our task force, both from Pittsburgh Police to the Sheriff’s Office, to identifying those communities that are directly impacted by violent crime,” FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Joe Rothrock told Channel 11.

Intel from police and community members help determine which neighborhood should be a focus area.

“We focus our efforts on those areas in the interest of community safety, and identify the people who are committing violent crime, and providing deadly substances which are causing overdoses on the streets,” Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus added.

By working together, the task force was able to take down the “Hazelwood Mob” several months ago, where 25 gang members were indicted for violent crime, shootings and distributing illegal drugs.

“We can more loosely define gangs as (a) handful of individuals working together from that same neighborhood and trying to achieve the same thing,” Rothrock said.

Typically, that “same thing” is violent crime, drug and gun trafficking.

Over the last few weeks, there have been shootings and homicides in our city that have gone unsolved, specifically the deaths of two young men who were killed at a massive party an Airbnb in the Northside.

No one has been charged in their deaths.

“It may seem crystal-clear to someone looking from the outside in, but when you’re in the inside looking out, it’s not necessarily the case,” Pittsburgh Police Narcotics and Vice Commander Marty Devine said.

While city detectives are actively working to find who is responsible, the task force continues to meet behind the scenes and work to figure out the next take down.

“What I can assure you is, all the agencies here on the task force are committed to having that impact, and lowering those incidents of violent crime, and seizing narcotics and firearms,” Rothrock said.