Pittsburgh police dealing with concerning surge in violent crime

PITTSBURGH — Police in Pittsburgh are dealing with what they say has been a concerning surge in violent crime in the city, and many of the victims have been young people.

So far in 2021, there have been 20 murders in the city and nearly 50 non-deadly shootings. Compared to the same time in 2020, those are 80% and 90% increases respectively, police said.

“Although this uptick in violence appears to be a trend across the country, this is not our city. This is not Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police will not allow this senseless loss of life to continue. Our officers will work directly with the community to get to the root cause of these crimes and stop them from occurring,” Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said in a statement.

Every day is a step for family members like Tiona Evans.

“Kenneth Harrison’s arrangements will be Monday the 26th,” Evans detailed. “Tyjuan Malachi’s Home going service also will be Saturday.”

Tyjuan Malachi and Kenneth Hairston were cousins and both were killed just days a part.

“We need peace today. We need peace now. We need to hold and be together now,” Evans explained.

The spike in violence across the city is troubling. Its also the reason city officials and community leaders came together on Monday.

Police said they’ve been taking a proactive approach to address the violence in the most affected neighborhoods.

Community Resource Officers and Neighborhood Resource Officers from the Community Engagement Office have been walking through several communities each week, police said. They’ve been talking with residents and business owners to listen to their concerns, as well as gather ideas about how to make their communities safer.

City and community leaders like Tiffany Simpson said that the spike in violence has to do with a number of issues. They believe young people need more job opportunities and things to do.

“There has to be something different, we have no recreational centers. No schools, the schools have been closed. Our church, the place of worship in Northview heights has been closed.”

Group Violence Intervention outreach workers have also increased their presence, police said. GVI is a partnership between law enforcement, outreach, social services and the faith community that was created to mediate and interrupt violence.

“Public Safety will ensure police have the investigative tools, technology, and resources they need at this time. But, more importantly, we encourage members of the public to come forward and share their ideas, concerns, and information with police. Police can only solve crimes when everyone works together. That cooperation and collaboration is key,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said in a statement.

Pastor Michael Day at the Legacy International Worship Center explained that the pandemic have given people a false sense of security.

“The pandemic gave us a false sense of security because we were so caught up in trying to beat the virus that people were hurting and suffering more than we ever thought possible.”

Anyone with information about violent crimes is asked to call Pittsburgh Police at 412-323-7800.