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Public Safety Director Links Uptick In Homicides To Drug Trade

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – City officials held a press conference Monday morning to address the recent spike in homicides in the City of Pittsburgh this year.

So far, there have been 41 homicides in Pittsburgh this year, which is on par with a record number set back in 1993.

There were 10 reported homicides in the month of July alone.

Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar said the uptick in homicides could be related to the drug trade.

“It seems to revolve around the drug trade – the drug trafficking trade. A lot of this violence is being perpetrated by those who are competing with each other for the finances associated with that trade,” Bucar said.

The most recent homicide happened Sunday night in Northview Heights. The body of a man was found in a wooded area off of Penfort Street around 10 p.m.

Now, Public Safety officials are once again asking for the public’s help to solve these homicides.

In response to a spike in the number of homicides, the East End will get 13 police recruits who were sworn in just last week.

“They’re going to be sent to zone 5 beginning next week,” says Acting Chief Regina McDonald of the Pittsburgh Police. “They will be doing training this week but they will be going to zone 5 next week and and they’ll be assigned to walk beats.”

This all comes as police continue to investigate the latest homicide: the discovery of a body near Northview Heights.

This year’s homicide numbers spiked upward in July — 11 homicides last month alone:

January – 5
February – 3
March – 6
April – 6
May – 4
June – 4
July – 11
August – 2

That brings the total for the year to surpass 40.

(Yearly mix)
That appears on pace to approach a record number like the 1993 record of 83 for the year.

1993 – 83
2003 – 67
2008 – 74
2010 – 57
2013 – 46

Drug trafficking is behind it all says the city’s new public safety director, Stephen Bucar. But he says predicting homicide rates isn’t easy.

“It’s very hard, its dangerous for us to speculate,” he says. “One thing that holds true year after year after year if you look at crime statistics especially violent crime month by month typically the warm months, the warm weather months have a higher crime rate across the board.”

And what of the public being asked to help police when there is a fear that witnesses can face retaliation?

“If you do have information you can remain completely anonymous,” says Mayor Bill Peduto. “In other words we don’t have a tracker on the phone of who’s calling. Just some information that you may have which you might not think is very relevant can help us track and use some other information to find somebody.”

Community organizations throughout Pittsburgh are reacting to a news conference held by police and government leaders on Monday night.

The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation has a detailed public safety initiative to help police.

Advocates there make it their mission to encourage witnesses to come forward with information about unsolved crimes. That’s one of the biggest challenges for investigators.

Deputy Director Aggie Brose told KDKA’s Kym Gable, “what are we as a society? Call in with information. Let the police do their job. They can’t do it alone.”

Executive Director Rick Swartz says he eager to meet the 13 new officers that will be assigned to Zone 5.

“How much exposure can they get your neighborhood leaders before they set foot on the street? We can help them understand What our expectations are of how they do their jobs. what our expectations are how they do their jobs,” he said.

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