Violent crime and homicides continue to decline in Pittsburgh

By Steve Pope | January 14, 2019

Shootings and homicides continue to decline in Pittsburgh according to statistics released today by city officials.

Over the past several years, homicides and shootings have trended downwards in the city of Pittsburgh. That trend continued in 2018.

There were 71 homicides in 2014. The total dropped to 60 in 2015, 59 in 2016, 58 in 2017 and 55 in 2018.

In 2015, there were 174 non-fatal shootings when police formed the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Unit, which targets at-risk members of the community and offers guidance and services to escape violent crime.

The number of shootings rose to 188 in 2016, then dropped to 140 in 2017 and 114 in 2018, officials said.

The number of other violent crimes including rape, robbery and assault have also dropped from a combined 2,142 incidents in 2016 to 1,439 incidents as of Dec. 16, according to the most recent 2018 data available.

But officials warned that although the numbers represent progress, work remains.

“Every year since 2014, we have seen a decrease in the number of homicides that have occurred in this city. That includes last year,” Mayor William Peduto said. “Our clearance rate has also increased, dramatically, and that is completely due to the work of Police.  However, that’s still not good enough. Our goal is to eradicate gun violence in our city.”

Clearance rates hovered in the 50-percent range from 2014 to 2017, but improved to 71 percent in 2018.

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich credited the improving numbers on increased community engagement, the use of technology including security cameras and ShotSpotter, and the hard work of police officers, among other factors.

“Some of the accomplishments have to do with the staffing of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police,” Director Hissrich said. “Thanks to the Mayor and City Council, our staffing levels have increased dramatically over the last several years allowing more officers to be on the street.”

Police Commander Victor Joseph, who heads the GVI unit said Monday that police are benefiting from better relationships with community members, who are providing detectives with more information than in the past.

Police and community members routinely visit jails, hospitals, schools and homes and speak with those engaged in or effected by violent crime to send a message that the violence must end.

Police Chief Scott Schubert praised his officers, who take every homicide personally. “One homicide is too many in the city of Pittsburgh, and we need to think about the victims’ families and what they go through when someone is murdered.”

Steve Pope can be contacted at steve.pope@grantstreetnews.com

 

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