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Mayor Gainey talks ‘Plan for Peace’ with North Side residents

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Dozens of North Side residents and community members gathered at the MuseumLab on Thursday to discuss Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s“Plan for Peace” and ongoing concerns about gun violence.

Gainey firstannounced the plan in June after a series of local shootings. It emphasizes a trauma-informed, public health approach that addresses the causes of violence, as well as the effects.

The plan names three “communities of concern,” including the North Side.

According todata from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, overall crime has continually decreased over the last few years. But recent incidents, including ashooting outside a funeral in Brighton Heights, have made gun violence a high priority for some residents.

In the whole city, “there are maybe a couple hundred people who are deeply committed to unpeaceful ways of being,” said Lisa Frank, Pittsburgh’s chief operating and administrative officer. The plan for peace recommends building ways for people to opt-out of violence, such as joining community groups.

City officials said they plan to expand “alternative response models” for 911 calls about mental health issues.

The Department of Public Safety, which includes police, fire, EMS, and animal control, isslated to receive about40% of the proposed 2023 budget. Gainey also proposed that the department incorporate the Office of Community Health and Safety in an effort to boost collaboration.

Gainey said his administration hopes to double the number of people on the “Community Violence Intervention Team” next year. The team could include social workers, outreach workers, and well-known community members who can help deter violence.

The number of guns on city streets continues to be an issue, Gainey said.

“We are trying to figure out where these guns are coming [from],” he said, noting that any substantial gun control legislation needs to be passed at the state level. “We’ve got so many guns on our streets… We need those laws. We need to change something.”

Successfully reducing gun violence will be a community effort, Gainey said.

“A lot of the leads we got came from the community,” he said. “They’ve been coming out, and that’s exactly why we’ve been able to close some of these cases.

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at