PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For the first time, Mayor Bill Peduto has acknowledged something that Downtown leaders and the Cultural Trust have been saying for months.
Crime is up Downtown.
“When we get specific to the central business district, we have seen an uptick in 2019 of violent crime in Downtown,” Peduto told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
That recognition comes after multiple stabbings, a Fourth of July shooting that hit the doors of the Benedum Theater, more panhandlers than ever, and a meeting of business leaders, city officials, and law enforcement that KDKA first reported Wednesday.
Downtown leaders implored the city to act.
“People are afraid to come down, especially with the recent stabbings and the shootings that have happened,” Michael McCoy, owner of the Zombie Den, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
“The mayor has to open up his eyes,” added Len Semplice, owner of Redbeard’s Sports Bar & Grill.
On Thursday, the mayor said the city is taking action.
“That issue is being addressed immediately through more police that are Downtown, the implementation of bicycle police that have the ability to trace a small footprint, and the addition of horses,” said Peduto.
The mayor says he hopes to bring a full substation downtown, bigger than what’s there now.
But Peduto said more police alone won’t solve the problem.
“It is an issue that deals with mental health, homelessness, and addiction, and we have all three coming together right now.”
Peduto says the city needs to build a homeless shelter but in the short-term: “There will be additional police, but on all of those other issues, we’re looking at a longer-term strategy.”