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Duquesne Annex residents voice concerns about crime

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 12:56 a.m.

Nervous Duquesne Annex residents brought concerns about crime to West Mifflin council on Tuesday night.

“Cars are being broken into, homes are being broken into. The latest thing is people siphoning gas from cars,” Laura Momich said. “Kids are doing it. They are coming from Duquesne.”

Residents said they see an increase in crime. Police Chief Ken Davies said the number of incidents investigated by borough police dropped from 19,420 in the first 7 ½ months of 2011 to 16,169 in the same period this year.

Arrests dropped from 1,019 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15 in 2012 to 775 in that same period this year, including 318 in July.

Momich talked of problems on Pennsylvania and Maryland avenues and Edison, Carnegie, Ford and Mifflin streets.

“I sit for hours waiting for a police car to go by and I see none,” Momich said. “How can we help you to make our neighborhood safer?”

Davies said his officers try to patrol the entire borough but have to tackle 415 streets covering more than 90 miles.

Still, Davies told those in attendance, “When you see something, call us. We need your eyes and ears.”

“Both my cars were scratched and vandalized,” Faith Edwards said. On one occasion, someone “got in and went all through my glove compartment.”

Nothing was taken, but Edwards said “I'm probably going to be dropped from my insurance for stupid kids.”

Edwards said she has four security cameras. Momich's daughter Indea Adair asked Davies if she could send him phone video. He said she could.

“I've caught people multiple times trying to open cars and peeking in,” Adair said. “My car was keyed at one point.”

Duquesne Annex is near the area in Duquesne where a 15-year-old boy was killed on Aug. 6, but residents were posting their concerns on the West Mifflin Crime Watch Facebook page prior to that.

That page stresses the theme of “neighbors helping neighbors” and has 1,555 members.

Councilman Robert Kostelnik said he walks his dog in that area and has found open cars. He said calls may not lead to instant results.

“There is a process,” Kostelnik said. “You just can't go crazy when you get good information.”

“If you have concerns then you should go to the meetings and if you end up that you can't go for other reasons besides previously made appointments (then) shame on you,” Angel Stipanovich posted after speaking at the meeting. She and her husband, Daniel, said they had called the police to report on a problem with marijuana smoke from a neighbor's house but no officer responded.

Davies said he would look into the matter. Officials said the problems in Duquesne Annex are not unique.

“It's a traveling circus,” councilman Steve Marone said, saying similar problems occurred last year on the other side of the borough.

Council ratified the hiring of Andy Quayle of Munhall as information technology coordinator at a salary of $40,000 a year.

“He has an extensive background in Internet issues,” Davies said. Quayle helped West Mifflin police start a Facebook page on Aug. 12 that had 1,090 “likes” as of Tuesday.

Some questioned if the borough had enough police officers. Manager Brian Kamauf said four were hired last year and three may be hired after testing by the South Hills Area Council of Governments.

Davies said the borough is getting $8,137 from the Department of Justice to replace 24 bulletproof vests.

Baldwin EMS Chief William Plunkett said his agency received 336 calls in July, including 252 for life-threatening matters, with an average response time of 7.7 minutes.

Solicitor Nick Evashavik said Patton Radio breached its agreement to put a communications tower on borough property along Edgewater Drive because it didn't allow the borough to put equipment on that tower to allow it to tie in to Allegheny County's emergency system.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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