Killings decline in Hill District area
Redevelopment of a problematic section of the Hill District might have led to a drop in homicides in the central police zone of Pittsburgh in 2013, a police official said.
There were four homicides — down from nine in 2012 — in Zone 2, which includes Lawrenceville, Uptown, the Hill District and Downtown, according to police statistics.
“Elmore Square was torn down,” Cmdr. Eric Holmes said. “These were some of our historically troubled areas.”
The quarter-mile span of the Addison Terrace housing complex around Elmore Square was the scene of 10 homicides between 2006 and 2009, according to data from the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office. More than 400 new public housing units are planned for the site.
Carl Redwood, chairman of the Hill District Consensus Group, said he thinks neighborhood block watches have helped curb violence.
“Residents on the block level are being more attentive of what's going on,” Redwood said. “That's the most important thing. The other thing is the police really focus their efforts where there tended to be more crime.”
Holmes began a four-month targeted enforcement patrol after an increase in calls for shots fired in the Bedford Dwellings public housing complex in the Hill last summer. Police made more than 90 arrests, he said.
“We think that put a damper on the crime because we were up there,” Holmes said.
There were 46 homicides across Pittsburgh in 2013, up from 42 in 2012, according to the medical examiner. There were 91 countywide in 2013, down from 96 in 2012.
The East End neighborhoods that make up the Zone 5 police district led the city in the number of homicides for the second year. There were 17 in 2012 in the zone, which includes Homewood, East Liberty, Garfield and Larimer, and 24 in 2013.
Two city police officers also were seriously wounded in shootings in Zone 5, Christopher Kertis on March 17 and Morgan Jenkins on April 11.
“We at Zone 5 take this personally,” said Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor, who oversees the Highland Park station. “To say we don't have a stake in curtailing this violence would be a mistake because we do. It's right at our doorstep.”
O'Connor attributed much of the violence to illegal gun possession. He said Zone 5 officers arrested more than 100 people for illegally possessing a firearm each year for the past four years.
“It averages out to arresting someone every three days,” O'Connor said. “We've had a very active year. The levels of violence and the number of people carrying firearms is very great, despite our efforts to counteract that.”
He hopes new technology, including cameras and a gunshot detection system, will help deter crime and identify criminals.
City police cleared — meaning they solved or otherwise resolved — 24 of the 46 homicides in 2013, Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus said. They cleared four homicides from previous years, so the department's clearance rate for 2013 as reported to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report will be 61 percent. The average homicide clearance rate in the U.S. in 2012 was 62.5 percent, according to the FBI.
“The most important thing is continuing to strive to enhance the relationship with the community,” Kraus said. “We don't use the lack of cooperation as an excuse, but it's important to enhance those relationships.”
Allegheny County Police cleared 31 of the 45 homicides they investigated in 2013, or 69 percent, Lt. Andrew Schurman said. That was up from 33 of 54 homicides in 2012, or 61 percent, although Schurman could not say why.
“The mechanics of the investigation are the same,” he said. “I don't want to say the level of cooperation has changed, because it hasn't.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Allegheny County Council wants to hike members’ $3K expense accounts
- No federal funds to help enforce Pa. ban on texting by drivers
- Defying the odds makes this Thanksgiving particularly poignant
- U.S. Steel to relocate corporate headquarters on former Civic Arena site
- Reading Harry Potter provides clues to brain activity, CMU researchers say
- Newsmaker: Christine Pease-Hernandez
- Rare surgery helps woman beat paralysis
- Apartment development outlined for former Schenley High School in Pittsburgh
- State leaders give input on budget woes at Pittsburgh meeting
- Brentwood police chief to get nearly $200K as part of settlement agreement with borough
- Suspect in Route 28 death has long history of ignoring vehicle registration, license laws, records show