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Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto: Push to keep South Side safe is working

Initiative on keeping the South Side safe
Initiative on keeping the South Side safe 02:29

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto said the new push to keep the South Side safe is working. 

KDKA-TV Meghan Schiller explains what insiders are calling the South Side entertainment patrol. It's not often you see people sitting in Mario's South Side Saloon's front bar, let alone on a Tuesday afternoon. But this crowd's looking for answers, not drinks.

"They're not wishing, they're not hoping," said John DeMauro, owner of the Urban Tap. "They're out here every single night, tangible action and it's dictating really good results."

DeMauro's one of several South Side business owners and residents putting in the work, teaming up with police to get the violence in check This past June, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police doubled down on patrols after realizing the situation got out of hand

"We weren't adequately staffed to support the demand that these businesses generate," Scirotto said. "Some of the patrons' behavior was uncheck for quite some time and it evolved into an anything-goes environment."

But after six-plus months of this new approach, Scirotto said he's happy. 

"We've been deploying it with what I believe to be substantial results, changed behavior," Scirotto said.

Sergeant Andrew Robinson leads the 10-officer patrol responsible for 95 arrests, 18 recovered firearms, over 200 traffic stops and over 1,000 written citations.

"Our officers are working shoulder to shoulder with the residents, the community leaders and business owners down here on the South Side," Robinsons said. 

They say added safety changes are helping, including a common scanning system to not let serious offenders inside bars and a radio station for bar and restaurant owners to communicate in real-time. 

"In the past, there were lots of meetings without a lot of results," said Don Berman. "Now, all these stakeholders have their oars in the water rowing in the same direction."

And police say they are not dropping back on this full-court press. Right now, it's 10 officers, plus a sergeant, and by next year it's bumping up to 12 officers plus a sergeant.  They say this will not pull resources from other zones in the city

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