Zone 2 commander denies staffing issue with Downtown officers amidst uptick in violence

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh is changing its policing tactics because of a recent uptick in violence Downtown, including a city employee being robbed at gunpoint.

>>> Pittsburgh city employee robbed at gunpoint Downtown, prompting leaders to take action

Pittsburgh police are starting high visibility patrols in the area, but there are concerns from some city officials that there aren’t enough officers to patrol the city. That claim is something a commander in Zone 2 denies, saying there’s double the amount officers downtown compared to last year.

“It’s a crisis. We are in a crisis stage, and to me, it needs to be acknowledged,” city councilman Anthony Coghill told Channel 11.

Coghill is reacting to a city employee recently being robbed at gunpoint while walking to his car, seeing windows smashed out of another city vehicle, and several random, violent attacks in Downtown Pittsburgh.

“It’s in direct correlation to the numbers we’ve been losing throughout the years. We just don’t have enough police officers to adequately patrol the City of Pittsburgh,” Coghill said.

Pittsburgh Police are budgeted for 850 officers, and a police spokesperson told Channel 11 they have 775, including recent recruits. However, according to Coghill, that number dips below 700 officers when you include those who are on leave and vacation.

“Quite frankly we don’t have enough police to patrol downtown. That’s why I feel like the city needs to partner with Allegheny County police, the sheriff, DA’s office. It’s all hands on deck with us,” Coghill said.

Pittsburgh Police Zone 2 Commander Tim Novosel disagrees with the councilman.

“That’s not true. We’ve grown 10 officers in the last year. Our patrols have increased, we have more people down here and now we have even more officers,” Novosel said.

Novosel said that last year, they had 10 officers downtown full-time, and now they’re at 20. Plus, with the department’s new Downtown High Visibility Police Patrol Initiative, people will see more officers on foot, on motorcycles, and in police cars.

>>> Pittsburgh police increasing presence in Central Business District after uptick in crime

“More visibility will help. That can’t hurt. A police officer in the area is going to help more,” Novosel said.

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