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Crime sweep honors fallen state trooper

Jason Cato
| Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006, 12:00 p.m.

Tributes such as his name adorning an overpass or a stretch of highway may come, but law enforcement officials this week decided to mark the anniversary of state police Cpl. Joseph Pokorny's death by doing what he chose for a living -- putting bad guys behind bars.

Local and state police rounded up 21 people Monday on drug-, weapon- and gang-related crimes during the first saturation patrol in Pittsburgh. Targeted areas included the Hill District, Homewood, East Hills, Garfield and East Liberty.

More sections of Allegheny County will be targeted in the future, state police Maj. Frank Monaco said. The initial roundup was driven by community complaints, and the timing by a desire to honor Pokorny.

"We want the criminal element not to forget him, either," Monaco said. "This is how he died; this is the way he lived. He lived to fight crime."

Pokorny, 45, of Moon, a 22-year state police veteran, was fatally shot Dec. 12, 2005, while making a traffic stop near the Rosslyn Farms on-ramp to the Parkway West in Carnegie.

Confiscated in this week's arrests were 1.5 ounces of cocaine, a quarter-ounce of heroin, four bags of marijuana and two weapons. It has not been decided whether charges will be filed in federal or state court.

The saturation patrols are being paid for with a $124,000 federal Project Safe Neighborhoods grant.

U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said she has met with numerous community leaders and residents to discuss ways to make their neighborhoods safer.

"I've heard the message loud and clear," Buchanan said. "Violent felons, illegal narcotics and firearms must be removed from our neighborhoods.

"We find out where crime is occurring and target those areas. We're watching, and we're coming after them. Their criminal activity will no longer go unchecked."

Since Project Safe Neighborhoods was started in 2001, federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh have filed charges against 394 people.

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