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Politics & Government

South Side Nightlife Patrols Successful; $100K Proposed for Anti-Crime Programs

Pittsburgh's Bureau of Police is reporting a high number of arrests and citations made by its "South Side Saturation Detail," which has patrolled the busy nightlife corridor of East Carson Street each Friday and Saturday night since mid-January.

The report from Assistant Police Chief Maurita Bryant includes 24 arrests, 15 non-traffic citations, and nine building code violations this past weekend alone. The arrests and citations were for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, public urination and similar offenses. The building code violations included burned out exit signs, blocked exits, and faulty exit hardware.

Police officers also issued 307 traffic citations, most of which were for parking violations.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side, said the weekend crackdowns are a necessary response to the events in the South Side nightlife over the last few months.

"Reports of sports figures barreling down the street; students falling to their deaths from third-storey balconies; crashes; reports coming in that East Carson Street is the sixth most dangerous street in the state of Pennsylvania -- that's the immediacy of the problem that has to be addressed now," said Kraus.

The councilman compared the police saturation detail to the stabilization of a dying patient on a hospital bed.

"You have to stabilize your patient so that you can then engage them in a long-range rehabilitation plan," said Kraus.

Kraus hopes to begin that long-term rehabilitation plan soon. On Tuesday, he introduced a bill to provide $100,000 in city money to carry out some of the nightlife reform recommendations made by a private consultant, the Responsible Hospitality Initiative (RHI).

One of those recommendations is to improve public transit options for late-night revelers.

"Data shows definitively that there's a correlation between crime and mischief and an inability to move a crowd in and out of an entertainment district efficiently," said Kraus. Options include late-night shuttle buses, taxi stands, and "pedicabs," or bicycle rickshaws. He said he also wants to make Carson Street safer by improving intersections, adding streetlights, and preventing people from jaywalking.

Another recommendation is for Pittsburgh to launch the "Night Gone Right" program, which was successful in Edmonton, Canada. The program involves training a corps of young adults to talk to South Side partiers about drinking responsibly.

Finally, the RHI recommendations included a 'Hospitality Zone Overlay,' an area in which the city government could pass special laws and regulations requiring increased security and other ways "to shape nightlife growth."