A day after community leaders called for an end to the violence in the city, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Police Chief Cameron McLay said Wednesday there are fewer homicides this year despite an uptick in area shootings.
“It’s not an epidemic of violence outside the norm of this city,” McLay said.
The number of homicides in the city in 2015 is on pace with the five-year average and down 18 percent from 2014, “but still it’s still an all-hands-on-deck emergency when we have this many young people dying,” McLay said.
But they might not have enough hands to pull from, he said. The police bureau is down 57 officers from Peduto's stated goal of 900 citywide.
According to police bureau statistics, 72 percent of murders are due to retaliation, drugs or robbery.
Assistant Commander Schubert Schubert said the first 48 hours after a murder are a critical time, not only to solve the murder, but to make the community feel safe and let them know the police are there to help. Schubert said efforts in the community to get people to “trust us enough to call 911” include a stronger neighborhood presence, door knocking and holding events with residents.
“It’s more than a police issue or a crime issue, it’s a community issue,” Peduto said. “There’s trauma in our communities and we need to heal it.”
The homicide clearance rate is currently about 48 percent, officials said.
McLay said there needs to more of an emphasis on crime prevention.
“With good analysis you can work a lot smarter," he said. "You’re able to solve problems while they’re smaller so you don’t have to use personnel-heavy tactics such as saturation patrols when you can solve a problem when it’s just beginning to emerge."
Thirty members of the police bureau will attend a program at John Jay University to develop a new strategy to stop violent crimes. McLay said those strategies will be implemented in January.