Pittsburgh has stepped up security for large events, festivals in wake of mass shootings
Pittsburgh has stepped up security for large events and festivals in wake of mass shootings in Pittsburgh and across the country, Mayor Bill Peduto said Monday.
Peduto said a Public Safety Department team now reviews all permits for large events to determine the best positions for police officers in and out of uniform. The city uses snow plows to block ways in and out of events and lights dark areas around the venues.
“It’s different per event, but every single event has an entire new level of public safety experts that analyze the area in the case of something horrible happening,” he said.
The mayor did not give any examples of recent festivals that had the increased security scrutiny.
Peduto spoke to the media Monday about the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Peduto considers Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley a personal friend.
Peduto said he received a text message early Sunday from his Chief of Staff Dan Gilman that simply said, “I’ve already been in touch with Nan.”
Peduto knows only one Nan. He responded to Gilman with question marks and learned that nine people had died in Dayton during a mass shooting only hours after a gunman killed 20 in El Paso. It brought back painful memories of the Tree of Life synagogue murders last year in Squirrel Hill.
“I went downstairs, got a cup of coffee, picked up the phone and made the call,” Peduto said. “She picked up and we talked. I said, ‘There’s some advice that I got, and I’m going to share it with you.’ ”
Peduto said he offered “just the basics.” First and foremost, take care of the victims’ family and friends, the wounded and the larger community and be very transparent. Later Sunday, as Dayton prepared for a memorial service, Peduto flashed back to how helpless he felt during a similar service at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall following Tree of Life.
He said he wrote Whaley a note.
“I just reminded her that the most important thing she needs to be right now is the voice of the community, and how you need to separate yourself from the personal heartache and be able to take care of your community, and that she would be great at doing it,” Peduto said. “She wrote back to thank me, and I haven’t had a chance to talk to her today, but she knows I’m a phone call away.”
Peduto said Pittsburgh has offered to assist Dayton in any way possible, but the thing the city needs most is love and support.
“There is an emotional depression that takes over an area when something like this happens.” he said. “People feel vulnerable. They feel unsafe. They worry, their children worry, grandparents worry and it has a mass effect. We can’t send in equipment to help fix that. We can just give our support.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-564-3080, [email protected] or via Twitter .