Crime most pressing problemin Pittsburgh, polled voters say
Reported crimes in Pittsburgh increased last year for the first time since at least 2002, highlighting concerns of likely voters who said crime is the city's biggest problem.
The police bureau received 13,625 reports of crime, ranging from homicide to drunken driving in 2012, a 6 percent increase over 2011. Although the total number of reported crimes increased, violent offenses — homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — decreased by 4.4 percent.
Bureau spokeswoman Diane Richard said that theft reports, which increased by 870, were the biggest driver of the increase.
A Tribune-Review poll conducted this month found that 19 percent of likely Democratic voters in the May 21 primary — the largest segment polled — believe crime is the city's most important problem. The economy was cited second most often, by 13 percent of respondents.
“Nowadays, you're afraid to sit on your own porch,” said Shirley Kimbo, 78, of the Hill District. “People are afraid to go out. You're afraid to go out in the daytime.”
Susquehanna Polling & Research of Harrisburg polled 400 likely voters; the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. Democrats represent 73 percent of city voters, according to the Allegheny County Division of Elections.
Recent shootings in Homewood highlight Kimbo's fears.
Gunfire erupted on Thursday between city officers and a fleeing suspect on Apple Street. Officer Morgan Jenkins and the suspect, James Robert Hill, 24, of Homewood, were critically wounded. On Wednesday, one person died and four were wounded during two shooting incidents in Homewood.
The four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor said the city must be more proactive in addressing crime. They are Councilman Bill Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze; community activist AJ Richardson, 36, of Sheraden; former Auditor General Jack Wagner, 65, of Beechview; and state Rep. Jake Wheatley, 41, of the Hill District.
Peduto, Wagner and Richardson vowed to put officers on beats in violent neighborhoods. Wheatley said he would assign special police units to attack crime-ridden areas.
However, an expert in crime and social behavior said police action won't stop root causes of crime.
“Police departments cannot change unemployment,” said Tony Gaskew, director of the Criminal Forensic Studies Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
“Police departments cannot change generations of segregation,” he said. “Police departments cannot change economic disparity, educational disparities, substance abuse.”
Kimbo said that when she was growing up in the Hill District, police walked a beat and people felt safe enough to leave their doors unlocked at night. She said she and her daughter were sitting on her porch one day last year when someone in a car threw a firecracker at them for no reason.
Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood, chairwoman of council's public safety committee, said crime rates mean little to residents who are victimized.
“If you're living next to a drug dealer, that's the reality you live,” she said. “Perception is reality.”
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who is not running for re-election, agreed.
“We will continue to work with dedicated community members to help drive down our city's crime rates even further,” he said in a prepared statement.
Staff writer Mike Wereschagin contributed to this report. Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
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.
- Alligator spotted at Cheswick shoreline
- Steelers’ Timmons looks to reverse defense’s struggles
- Steelers’ Polamalu relying on smarts as physical skills deteriorate
- Crosby, Malkin to miss start of Penguins camp
- Mystery writer Palumbo keeps his voice set in Western Pa.
- Range Resources to pay $4.15M fine, close old gas drilling impoundments
- Olivia Pope’s sophisticated ‘Scandal’ style comes to The Limited
- Heinz History Center offers conservation workshops in new facility
- Ex-Gateway coach Smith making mark at Penn State
- Penguins notebook: Hornqvist, Spaling will lead by example
- Review: Stellar cast lets ‘Leave You’ leave you laughing