PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh Police and Pittsburgh Public Safety officials say the city’s crime rates decreased once again in 2018, even with the tragic murders of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue last fall.
Officials laid out the stats for homicides, shootings and shots fired calls at a news conference on Monday morning.
Mayor Peduto says gun violence was down again the the city of Pittsburgh for the fifth straight year — despite 11 people being killed at the #PittsburghSynagogueShooting in Squirrel Hill back in October. pic.twitter.com/AXnveFJ04S
— Rick Dayton (@rickdayton) January 14, 2019
Homicides dropped from 58 in 2017 to 55 last year, a decrease of five percent. There were 114 non-fatal shootings in the city, compared to 140 in 2017.
The number of calls to 911 reporting shots fired was down by 14 percent, too. That’s 1,858 in 2018 compared to 2,148 in 2017.
Pittsburgh Police also saw a dramatic spike in the success rate for clearing homicide cases, going from 48 percent in 2017 up to 71 percent last year.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says these numbers are another move in the right direction.
“Since 2014, every year we have now seen a decrease in the number of homicides that have occurred in the city,” he said.
Eleven of the 55 victims killed in the city during 2018 died on Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Squirrel Hill. That is a whopping 20 percent of the annual total for homicides.
WATCH LIVE: City Officials News Conference —
Still, city officials cite several reasons non-fatal shootings were down 19 percent for the year while homicide clearance rates jumped to 71 percent in 2018.
Wendell Hissrich, the director of the Department of Public Safety, says, “Our staffing levels [for police officers] have increased dramatically over the last several years, allowing more officers to be on the street.”
The ShotSpotter system has grown from three square miles of coverage in 2016 to 18 square miles today. Soon there will be more than 400 surveillance cameras providing vital clues to investigators.
Chief Lavonnie Bickerstaff, the chief of Investigations for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, says much of the credit goes to a dramatic improvement in relationships between police and the people they serve.
“I want the credit to go to the community because those have been the individuals who have met us at our level and who have continued to give us information to help us solve our crimes,” she said.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Cmdr. Vic Joseph agrees.
“That is how we are starting to get more cooperation, and now we are seeing success in some of our clearance rates,” he said.
While these numbers are encouraging, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert knows much work remains.
“We are committed, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, to ensure we aggressively investigate each and every homicide and shooting to find those responsible and take them off of the street,” he said.