Target 11: Pittsburgh police plan to crack down on East Carson Street with patrolling

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police plan to crack down on East Carson Street this weekend, and Target 11 investigator Rick Earle has learned they won’t be using undercover patrols, but saturation patrols.

Beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, more Pittsburgh police officers in full uniform will be patrolling on East Carson Street on the South Side.  The show of force is meant to address the recent uptick in violence in that area, especially during the evening hours when bars and restaurants are filled with customers. East Carson Street is a popular nightspot in the city.

“We have to be able to get our arms around this and bring a sense of control and stability to the southside, and let people know that they’re safe,” said Zone 3 Commander John Fisher, whose zone includes East Carson Street on the Southside.

As Target 11 first reported last month, Fisher proposed using undercover patrols in unmarked cars, but that plan was met with some resistance and safety concerns about using unmarked cars and officers in plainclothes, even though they would be wearing bulletproof vests labeled police.

Now, Target 11 has obtained an internal Police Bureau email that outlines plans to use uniformed officers for saturation patrols beginning Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 p.m.

Because of manpower shortages, the Bureau has requested that four other zones in the city send three officers out to the Southside every night to help out.

“We see where there’s a lot of problems that arise from them when they are partying, particularly once the bars close out of the trunks of their cars we see incidents of violence, fighting, There have been shootings, etc.,” said Fisher.

To give you an idea of the extent of that issue, Target 11 has learned that just last month, the city collected 245 empty bottles of liquor along that East Carson Street corridor.

Target 11 has also learned that the mayor and his administration will meet with business owners and residents in a few weeks to hear their concerns, a move echoed by Elizabeth Pittinger, the executive director of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board.

“I think it’s time to pull the business community together again down there as was done several years ago to look at realistically what are our policing needs. And it has to be perhaps more of a reactive type policing as opposed to this whole idea of preventative policing or proactive, let’s just calm it down and if you see somebody doing something intervene. Don’t go looking for it,” said Pittinger.

In addition to the extra patrols, motorcycle units will also be tagging and towing cars along East Carson Street on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights this weekend. It’s unclear if these saturation patrols will take place every weekend or sporadically. Target 11 learned that there was a police presence on the Southside last weekend as well, during the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.