South Side residents can't be blamed if they are starting to feel like cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, engaged in his endless pursuit of the Roadrunner. Like the coyote, whose elusive prey is always just out of reach, neighbors keep getting close to getting more weekend police patrols only to see plans delayed. Repeatedly.
Residents have been enduring the side-effects of the busy East Carson Street bar scene for years, but the abundance of traffic, parking woes, boorish behavior and criminal activity just keeps increasing. Several times, city Public Safety officials and the neighborhood bar owners reached agreements for increasing police presence, but they've been scuttled.
On Tuesday, police Lt. Larry Scirotto announced that combined patrols made up of both on-duty and off-duty officers will debut this weekend.
We hope so.
Pittsburgh police, the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, the local chamber of commerce and consultants from the Responsible Hospitality Institute have been working toward the extra patrols for three months, and they were to start last month.
If all goes as planned, on-duty police and their off-duty colleagues hired by the businesses will be visible between 11th and 22nd streets in the East Carson entertainment district. Unlike past practice, which limited the off-duty officers to door duty at the bars, they now will work outside, with all officers under supervision by the police bureau. The officers will work until 3 a.m., an hour after bars must close.
Neighborhood conditions can improve only if the patrols start up and keep going without interruption.