‘It’s been very successful’ Pittsburgh Police make ‘South Side entertainment patrol’ permanent

PITTSBURGH — The crackdown on crime on the city’s South Side has been hard to miss.

“I think it’s going to take a while to tell but I would assume that based off the less crime that’s happening, that something’s working,” said Claire Pro of South Side.

Since the spike in violent crime in July, Pittsburgh Police have stepped up patrols on East Carson Street Thursday through Sunday nights. Now, the department has put together a dedicated team made up of five city officers to permanently keep the ‘South Side Entertainment Patrol’ moving along the busy strip.

“It’s been very successful,” said Richard Ford, the assistant chief of operations with Pittsburgh Police.

Ford said the effort goes beyond handing out speeding and parking tickets. He said they’ve made arrests for “smoking pot,” violence, public urination and drunkenness. They’ve also taken guns off the streets.

“When people realize the type of people that bring that type of element to those areas, when there’s going to be accountability and repercussions for those actions, those type of people tend to stay away,” Ford said.

They’re also cracking down on businesses that are not up to code.

“The specific clubs down there that have not taken it upon themselves to enforce a certain amount of people inside, we’re holding them accountable as well,” said Ford.

Rich Cupka, who owns Cupka’s Cafe 2 on East Carson, admits while business owners have a responsibility when it comes to people inside their establishments, the problem is largely outside.

“The problem is not the bars; it’s the people on the streets loitering, selling alcohol and drugs out of their cars. That’s the problem,” Cupka said. “It’s just a matter of time before we’re back to where we were.”

Meantime, some people, such as Betty Thomas of West Oakland, believe the initiative to beef up patrols should be expanded into other high-crime neighborhoods.

“The South Side is not, I repeat, is not the only area that has crime,” said Thomas. “It’s bad crime going on everywhere, especially in the urban areas.”

Ford told Channel 11, they’re looking into possibly expanding into other neighborhoods. He also said the number of officers they have on the streets for the initiative depends on the time of year, adding they might need to add officers in certain cases.

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