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Tackle crime all over Pittsburgh

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By Nafari Vanaski
Thursday, March 14, 2013, 11:30 a.m.

The second South Side “blitz” last weekend by Pittsburgh police and city fire and building code enforcement officials resulted in more than 100 citations and eight arrests for unruly behavior.

While this probably won't offer a long-lasting solution, curbing drunken behavior in an area that invites drunken behavior is laudable.

The audible to start the blitz occurred after a police chase this month that began elsewhere but ended in the South Side. Two people in the suspect's car and a bystander on East Carson Street were shot by police, and an officer shot into an SUV.

Which illustrates the need to control the crowd in the South Side.

Ask the person next to you to name what they think is the roughest neighborhood in Pittsburgh. The South Side probably wouldn't be the first one named and probably wouldn't be mentioned at all. It should be, though.

The South Side was the scene of 125 violent crimes in 2011, the highest of any individually listed neighborhood in Pittsburgh's 2011 crime report. Homewood, in total, had a far worse 203 violent crimes, but the city report breaks that area into Homewood North (100) South (74) and West (29).

Downtown had 112 reported violent crimes, and East Liberty had 90 violent crimes, which include homicides, rapes, burglaries and aggravated assaults. So where is the blitz effort in these neighborhoods?

I posed that question to Joanna Doven, press secretary for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

“This is targeted at the nightlife activity,” she responded.

OK. But what does the city plan to do about other neighborhoods with high numbers of violent crime?

Doven didn't elaborate, saying only: “Write the story you want to write.”

That's not exactly the response I'd expect, however, from the spokesperson for a mayor in an election year, but OK. I'll do that.

I want to write that not all high-crime areas have bars on every window, but they do have residents with children who are worried about crime.

They're people who find strange cars idling in front of their homes whose passengers are either ingesting drugs or waiting for a drug drop. In the summer, residents in those neighborhoods hear spurts of gunfire.

When Ravenstahl announced the blitz, he said one reason was “restoring the quality of life that each and every Pittsburgh resident deserves.” True, you shouldn't be robbed or worse on a Saturday night in the South Side — or anywhere else in the city.

I want to write that the mayor has a plan for other neighborhoods, even if it doesn't have a catchy, football-related name.

I'm sure they're working on it.

Nafari Vanaski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, at or on Twitter @NafariTrib.

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