By Duke Staff
According to Pittsburgh police, the South Side is on its way to becoming a safer neighborhood. But does the word safer lend the same meaning as safe?
Lt. Larry Scirotto recently spoke to The Duke and reported that since last year, an estimated 30 percent drop in crimes like aggravated assault, arson, robbery, burglary and theft. Also, a 28.7 percent decrease in 911 calls on Friday and Saturday nights was a highlight for the neighborhood since last year (More on Page 1).
Speculation as to why crime has decreased has varied, but Scirotto believes that the development can be attributed to the increase in officers along East Carson Street; a plan constructed by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in January.
While all can agree that this development is a positive one for the South Side community and its visitors, the South Side is still statistically lacking in safety.
With over 100 active liquor licenses and a 2012 city police report stating combined crime rates in the South Side slopes and flats neighborhoods as the highest in the Allegheny County, the notion of a safer South Side doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe.
As police are able to enforce the law more swiftly, the environment in which to commit crimes is still just as daunting.
An increase in police surveillance will logically garner a lower crime rate, but this solution is a temporary one. Like an overbearing mother, constant hyper-surveillance is not a healthy decision. One can only ask, what will happen to the South Side when the police blitz returns to normal?
The problem with safety among South Side’s residents and its patrons will still endure as long as the impairment of one’s decisions are encouraged by the densely packed bar scene that South Side offers.
Police should look to change people’s rampant perceptions of the South Side instead of inforcing a hostile environment with heightened surveillance.
For example, the closing of Levelz, a nuisance bar on East Carson this August, was a huge long-term improvement for the neighborhood. Closing more or all of the bars would be impractical and destroy culture on the South Side. But eliminating or improving well known, dangerous areas should be the true focus.
If the newly elected mayor plans to hold his promise, this future may continue to become a reality. Bill Peduto said days before his win that his “goal is to get ahead of the game and clean up the South Side so that it seems out of place for the ludicrous behavior of a few.”