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Identity & Community

Pittsburgh Police Hone In On Public Safety After 2014 Spike In Homicides


Bringing down Pittsburgh's homicide rate was a major public safety priority this year for the city's bureau of police.

According to data provided by police, there were 71 homicides in 2014, nearly one-third more than the previous year and the city's highest volume since officers investigated 74 homicides in 2008.

But things might be improving, police Chief Cameron McLay said. 

“I can tell you (in) 2015, we are trending down in homicides where most of the nation’s major cities are not,” he said.

But police aren't celebrating yet, he said.

Pittsburgh's overall crime rates are a mixed bag for 2014. According to the Bureau of Police Annual Report, crimes against property (arson, vehicle theft, burglary, larceny) fell 6.6 percent and crimes against people (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) rose 3 percent year over year.

Violence is a macro problem, McLay said, and its drivers are socially complex. He said tackling the issue is not up to just the police, but about officers, communities, criminal justice experts and service providers working together.

“Each one of us has to excel in dealing with the violence problem from within our piece of the pie,” he said, “Whether it’s police, public health, human services, educations systems – no one component can solve this.”

McLay said officers have been effective in taking offenders off the streets for the most part, but must continue to fight the roots of violence. Police and community relations are improving, but it's a slow process, he said. Officers report that courteous, respectful policing day-to-day make all difference when a community member has to decide whether to speak up about witnessing or hearing about a crime.

Of the 15,672 arrests made in 2014, more than half were people between the ages of 18 and 34. The full report can be found online.