Verdict not in on success of South Side 'blitz'
Residents, regular customers and restaurateurs had mixed opinions on the weekend's police sweeps of the South Side, but all hoped the increase in inspections, parking tickets and traffic stops lasts long enough to have a real effect on the rowdy nightlife.
About two dozen extra patrol officers, towing crews and teams of police and fire marshals made their presence known along Carson Street on Friday and Saturday nights, making 26 arrests, handing out nearly 150 traffic citations, towing 76 vehicles and making 67 checks of bars for occupancy or fire code violations, according to a statement from the office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
“It's just something that has to be done, because in a lot of ways, people get out of control down here,” said Kevin Saum, a bartender at Mullen's on Carson.
The verdict was not unanimous on the success of the effort after one weekend, and whether the city would be able to keep it up long enough to make a difference.
“My question is: How long is it going to last?” said Eron Gonz, 41, manager of the South Side Barbershop. “Is it going to be a two-, three-week thing and then phase things back to how it used to be?”
Gonz said he and several others were hanging out inside the barbershop Jan. 13 when a police chase that had started in Homestead ended with officers firing at the fleeing car nearby, wounding driver Donald Burris Jr., 32, and his mother, Lena Davenport, 49.
Ravenstahl announced the public safety “blitz” days after the shooting. He said on Friday that the sweeps would continue for “as long as it takes.”
“I say focus on the side streets where the crap happens,” said Kate Nix, 40, of Zelienople, who said she is a regular visitor to the South Side. “You always see the police up on Carson; it seems like they're attacking the bar owners.”
Tracy Konieczny, 29, a manager at Carson City Saloon, said police and fire marshals came into the bar both nights to check that it was not exceeding its occupancy limit and that its fire exits were clear and marked.
Knowing the crackdown was coming led bar owners to make patrons wait at the door rather than squeeze in a few more than the occupancy limit, Konieczny said. That could have harmed business and raised tensions among the customers left out in the cold, she added.
Ruth Malloy, a 53-year resident of the South Side, said she welcomed the extra police presence and hoped it would clean up the spillover of Carson Street partying into the residential side streets.
“When the bars close, they all come down here and hang around,” said Malloy, 73. “They make a mess and look into houses.”
“The problem's not inside the bars. It's after people leave,” Konieczny said.
Without adequate taxi or bus service when the bars let out, patrons tend to try to drive drunkenly or hang around the neighborhood.
“People are just creeping around the South Side, waiting to sober up, and that's when the fights and the problems happen,” she said.
City Councilman Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side, said he would speak to business owners this week to gauge their impressions of the sweep.
Overall, Kraus said, the sweeps would be part of the larger efforts recommended by the California-based Responsible Hospitality Institute.
“What I know of the sweep is that it was relatively successful, in that there were no major incidents,” Kraus said. “The Responsible Hospitality Institute plan is more of a long-range rehabilitation plan, and it's difficult to do rehabilitation if your patient is hemorrhaging.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-380-5625or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Port Authority’s plan for car-free communities slow to bear fruit
- Solarize Allegheny powers up with more communities
- Shaler man charged with homicide, abuse of corpse in McKeesport woman’s death
- Allegheny County police officer on leave after assault charges filed
- Newsmaker: Tamika Duck
- Gunfire wounds man near Riverview Park
- Shadyside-based Niche.com mines surveys, data for school ratings
- Newsmaker: Dr. Elizabeth Chow
- Man accused of fatal North Side stabbing claims self-defense
- 3 Brentwood council members submit resignation letters
- Allegheny County Airport gets FAA grant to trim trees under flight path