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Pittsburgh Police to Receive $100k State Grant to Investigate Gun & Gang Violence

Pittsburgh has seen 60 homicides in 2014, and more than a third of them were in Police Zone 5, which encompasses Homewood, Larimer, Highland Park, Stanton Heights, Bloomfield, and Friendship.

Now, with the help of the state, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is set to pump nearly $100,000 into an ongoing investigation into gun and gang violence, specifically in Homewood and neighboring Wilkinsburg.

Commander Thomas Stangrecki, in the bureau’s department of professional responsibility, said the money will go toward equipment, supplies, and overtime pay for detectives working in those areas.

“By devoting resources and time, they feel that they can make some impact in reducing the level of shootings, violent activity, robberies, drugs … and homicides,” Stangrecki said.

According to the bureau’s 2013 annual report, Homewood has an average of 23 crimes per citizen, one of the highest rates in the city.

Stangrecki said most violent crime in the area is motivated by drugs, money, perceived disrespect, or long-running feuds.

“One aspect is the availability of firearms in some neighborhoods,” Stangrecki sad. “In the wrong hands, people use them to settle their differences, which unfortunately results in gunshot wounds or death.”

But Mayor Bill Peduto said Wednesday on 90.5 WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh that the reasons for such crimes go much deeper.

“As long as drug dealing remains the most profitable occupation and industry within neighborhoods, it’s very difficult to break those cycles,” Peduto said. “We’re going to the core: education, job training, opportunities, and giving people … second chances in life to get out of that industry and into something more productive.”

While the Peduto administration works on more long-term solutions, the Bureau of Police will continue its investigation in collaboration with the FBI’s Safe Streets task force, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Wilkinsburg Police Department and the Munhall Police Department.

City Council gave preliminary approval to the grant agreement Wednesday, and will take a final vote next week.

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor.
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