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Identity & Community

Pittsburgh Police To Combine Homicide And Robbery Divisions

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is consolidating squads this September in an effort to better address violent crime, Chief Cameron McLay announced Tuesday.

Homicide and robbery squads will combine to form one Violent Crime Unit responsible for investigating homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies and shootings. Commanders at each of the five zone stations also created a universal protocol to respond to community violence. Previously, each had their own best practices.

“It’s not just (the) responsibility of the investigators, it’s the responsibility of the first-year patrolmen all the way up to the chief of police that we play a big part in helping to … reduce (violence)” said Scott Schubert, Assistant Chief of Operations for the department.

This new system will address violent crime in tiers, Schubert said.

Extra officers may be sent to a neighborhood for Tier 1 when police have received threats of violence. Tier 2 suggests an act of violence has already occurred. Tier 3 relates to communities plagued by violence where officers think retaliatory shootings may occur.

McLay used the event to solidify his commitment to openness.

Data is more accessible now than it has been in the past, he said. The bureau released its first quarterly data report showing 20 homicides in Pittsburgh over the last six months. Officials said that keeps with the five-year average, while shootings increased 10 percent and gun assaults jumped 44 percent during the same period.

The bureau also released data from the past five years.

Violent crime was concentrated in several neighborhoods – parts of the East End, Hill District and south Pittsburgh. Victims of violent crime are predominantly young black males.

McLay called it a “dramatic disparity in the impact of violent crime in the community.”

Mayor Bill Peduto echoed McLay. He said, “You can’t solve old problems with old ways.”

“Simply putting boots on the ground is not really a solution to being able to solve any crime, and certainly not violent crime,” Peduto said. “There needs to be new techniques that are brought in and there needs to be a new team within the bureau of police to lead that.”

McLay said the city will post additional reports on the city’s public safety website.