Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The much-awaited Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime has been funded by the city council. Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess has been working on brining the national model program to Pittsburgh for nearly two years. The thrust of the program is to identify the most problematic criminal offenders in the city and their affiliations and then promise to go after not only the individual but also every member of the group if a crime is committed. The council today passed a bill to spend $200,000 on the program over then next 2 years. Much of the money will go to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the man who came up with the idea behind the program, Professor David Kennedy, of the City University of New York. Burgess says much of the research and set up work has already been done. The next step will be to gather the identified individuals and others in one or two “call in” meetings to let them know the city has launched a new program. Burgess says people need to know, “There is a new day in Pittsburgh and no violence will be tolerated.” Burgess says it is not hard to get the troublemakers into the meeting because most have some sort of criminal past and are on parole or are awaiting trial for some other crime. The goal is to hold the first meeting by the end of the year. For now, only murders will be tracked. When there is a murder in the city another “call in” meeting will be held and the message sent again. He says people in those meetings can commit to walking away from a life of crime and they will be placed at the front of any needed social support programs. More than a year ago County Executive Dan Onorato pledged to take the concept countywide. To make the program effective there needs to be cooperation among several entities including the police and the district attorney. Burgess says the model has worked in every city it has been implemented. In can be expanded to cover the drug trade and domestic violence once the homicide rate is reduced.