Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Officers Hit East End Streets Recruits Are Part of Pittsburgh Initiative to Curb Increase in Homicides in Area

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Officers Hit East End Streets Recruits Are Part of Pittsburgh Initiative to Curb Increase in Homicides in Area

Article excerpt

Monday marked a day of street lessons for the newest members of the Pittsburgh police force.

Here's where people drink 40s and smoke blunts. That's the drug house where a man was killed last month. Here's where the prostitutes hang out; many come from Wilkinsburg, but a few live in Homewood.

Those were among the lessons Zone 5 police Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor taught the 13 men who graduated from the Pittsburgh police bureau's training academy this month.

The new officers, most of whom have experience working for other police departments, began walking foot patrols Monday in the East End neighborhoods covered by the city's Zone 5 station. They worked a day shift Monday, but some eventually will begin later in the day, when more activity tends to occur.

"They have to get acclimated to the zone and know where they're going," the commander said.

Their new assignments are among the actions touted by the city in its efforts to derail an uptick in homicides. The neighborhoods covered by the city's Zone 5 station have recorded more killings than any other section of the city. About 25 people have been shot there since June 1, including five who died, Cmdr. O'Connor said.

The zone was at times short-staffed this summer while some officers left for military duty and others recovered from injuries, the commander said. Having the new officers assigned there means more people will be able to focus on quality of life issues rather than jumping from call to call, he said.

The extra patrols, some community leaders have said, are a start but not a total solution to reducing the violence. Representatives from some groups, including the Community Empowerment Association, have called on city leaders to provide more job opportunities for people living in the city's poorer neighborhoods and more recreation for children.

"Our obligation to the community is primarily a law enforcement- directed approach, and that means uniform policing and providing a presence and arresting violators," Cmdr. O'Connor said.

The new recruits rode a bureau van Monday morning to a parking lot next to an abandoned building at Frankstown and Homewood avenues. …

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