Ravenstahl announces 'blitz' of enforcement for Pittsburgh's South Side
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl addresses a crowd during a press conference about public safety on 16th and Carson Streets.
Gloria Szala a lifetime resident of the South Side listens to a press conference about public safety Tuesday on 16th and Carson Streets.
Jane Walsh and her daughter, Josephine, 19 months old, of the South Side, listen to the mayor during his press conference.
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Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced a "blitz" of police, firefighters and building inspectors during peak trouble hours on the South Side, the first part of a larger plan to address problems in the city's entertainment districts based on a consultant's report.
"It's clear that the South Side area needs attention and it needs it now," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said during a frigid press conference held in the middle of 16th Street. "It's going to require an all-hands-on-deck strategy ... It involves an aggressive approach to public safety."
Mr. Ravenstahl said he would order a saturation patrol to cite out-of-control revelers with public drunkenness and public urination. And roving DUI patrols would be deployed occasionally to catch impaired drivers and police would receive special training on crowd control and management.
Additionally, he would have more tow trucks to remove illegally parked cars as well as building inspectors to cite bars exceeding occupancy limits.
The mayor would not say how many extra officers, inspectors and firefighters would be deployed, characterizing it as "significant."
Police chief Nate Harper, who stood beside the mayor, shook his head when asked to comment on the special crowd-control training police would receive.
East Carson Street was the site of a police-involved shooting early Sunday when five off-duty officers fired on a car that sped away from police in neighboring Homestead and crashed into parked vehicles.
The officers had to manage gathering crowds leftover from a typically busy Saturday night as they tried to stop the driver.
The officers wounded the driver, 32-year-old Donald Burris of Carnegie, and his mother, 49-year-old Lena Davenport.
Police today charged Mr. Burris with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and fleeing or attempting to elude police.
The blitz is the first leg of the Pittsburgh Sociable City Plan, which came out of a report from the California-based Responsible Hospitality Institute.
The city paid the institute $100,000 to study its entertainment districts. In December, the institute released recommendations to address the problems that chronically plague some of the city's nighttime destinations, particularly the South Side.
Among other things, the report's authors urged the city to establish task forces to address hospitality and public safety, sending more officers into entertainment districts and the creation of "an efficient system for data collection to monitor risk."
They also recommended creating off-site parking for employees and patrons of the South Side, create pedicab regulations and a social marketing campaign for traffic and pedestrian safety.
They advised the city to develop guides for the opening of new businesses and "define model practices for business plans on marketing, safety and security."
First Published January 15, 2013 4:01 pm