Saturday, February 11, 2006

Perception is reality with police station closure

No major effects from station closing - By Karen Roebuck and Mark Houser

The closing of the West End police station has not significantly affected crime in the area.
Here there is a story, and a story behind the story. Or, stories that dangle after the story.

On face value, the crime stats might be such that the loss of the police station was not a big deal in terms of crime prevention. That is understood. The police have said many times that they don't just hang out in the police station and wait for a call from 911 and then rush out to the neighborhood from the police station. The police cruise the neighborhoods (or zones) and are not going to the scenes from the police station. So, the police coverage in each zone is about the same even without a physical police station around the corner.

That part of the discussion is given and is where the news article goes. But there is more to think about.

First, the crime statistics are now being questioned. This was blogged about a while ago here. A candidate question was put out about rummor reports being more accurate than police reports. Then on the night of the AFC Championship Game, ZERO arrests were reported, from the police. That was questioned as good "spin" and not what really happened. The police might not have made an arrest, and released those people, but there were linger questions. What happens on the paper reports and what happens on the streets is hard to justify.
"It follows the trend of the city," said Pittsburgh police Deputy Chief William Mullen. "The crime rate hasn't been this low since 1996."
Well, when the paperwork isn't trusted, that's bad.
Residents, community activists and some politicians have called for reopening the station ever since it closed. The 17 neighborhoods it once served now are covered by the Zone 3 station in the South Side.
The big voice here in question is that of Mayor Bob O'Connor. Bob made a campaign promise. We're wondering if the promise is to come true or not.
Theresa Smith, founder of the Southwest Community Coalition, which is fighting for the reopening of the station, questioned the validity of the statistics.

"The bottom line for us is, we want our police station open," she said. "I don't think these statistics bear any weight on whether we feel safe in the community."

Elliott and Mt. Washington are the only two neighborhoods once served by the old Zone 4 station that have endured significant increases in major crime from 2003-05. I guess if you are in those neighborhoods, or if crime happened to you, that's significant enough.

Residents are moving out of the area as a result, she said. YES, this is where we need to put our larger focus. What about home sales? What about the population loss? What about home values? What about school-aged children in local schools?

This brain-drain and population loss in Pittsburgh has been such a big story, from time to time. But, the links between police station and schools to the overall exodus of our citizens, (our families and friends), is seldom made in the media.

For example, the city council raised parking taxes. The parking tax generated more money for the city. But, in turn, how many companies moved out of the city? How many more are getting ready to leave as the next opportunity presents itself? In the first six months, or the first two years, a higher tax is going to generally make more money -- but -- it is going to kill us in the long run.

Later, we'll lower the tax and it won't really help in the inverse. If the tax dropps later, as I have proposed in my policy planks, it might only be enough to get more of today's workers to drive to work rather than take the bus. The later tax drop won't be with enough sizzle to get new workers or expanded workers employed in real jobs town.

The police brass review neighborhood crime statistics -- and those statistics are NOT open enough to the citizens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a crap report from the Trib. Ask people here in Elliott what they think about the lack of police protection.

Closing a police zone will never make crime go down.