PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s believed by many in law enforcement to be the single most effective way to curb violent crime, but this year the seizure of illegal guns has fallen off by nearly a third.
And the Fraternal Order of Police says this is a direct result of the sidelining of the three Pittsburgh police officers involved in the Jordan Miles incident.
“You took your talent away and created apprehensiveness among the other officers making the same arrests,” said Chuck Hanlon of the F.O.P.
The three officers – Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak – have been on paid suspension since the January incident in Homewood while the U.S. Justice Department investigates the arrest and what some contend to be the beating of Miles.
Since then, gun arrests have plummeted.
Last year city police made 659 arrests for illegal gun possession, but through November of this year the number of arrests as fallen off sharply to 469.
At the same time, homicides in the city have climbed from 40 last year to 56 this year.
“You have 200 less guns taken off the street and it’s a direct cause of what happened to those officers,” Hanlon said.
Public Safety Director Michael Huss says while he’s concerned about the drop in gun seizures and the increase in homicides, he’s not convinced the two are related. He says aggressive police work must also be balanced by a person’s civil rights.
“There’s a balance of policing in our community that we always try to get it right, and most of the time we do, and it’s a credit to the professionalism in that bureau,” Huss said.
But at Willie Tee’s Barbershop in Homewood, hard-feelings over the Jordan Miles incident have widened the divide between the community and the police.
“They beat a kid almost to death and he had a bottle in his pocket – not a pistol but a bottle,” said John Turner.
People say more officers walking a beat might improve strained relations.
“If they showed a little more presence and talked to the people during the day – just come to know the people and let the people know them, it would be a better situation out here.”