South Side Cameras Help To Reduce Incidents 37%

South Side residents and business owners still hope to see more changes.

Shelby Cassesse
June 07, 2018 - 1:56 pm
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. gives his presentation on cameras in the South Side.

Photo By: Shelby Cassesse

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Allegheny County installed high-resolution cameras and a license plate reader system along East Carson Street last October. Since then, crime incidents are down 37 percent in the South Side.

The new technology, which includes 36 cameras, has also significantly improved investigation and prosecution of crimes that occurred around East Carson Street. In May, a local restaurant owner was charged after he allegedly followed a woman to her South Side home, broke in and sexually assaulted her. When the accused, Adnan Pehlivan, requested permission to travel to Australia, prosecutors say they were able to use the cameras from East Carson Street to show he stalked his victim and her friends on the night of the attack.

Allegheny County District Attorney Steven A. Zappala, Jr. says he believes the camera system is the main catalyst for a safer neighborhood.

"I'm optimistic that based upon the case that was just charged by the City, the sexual assault....you come down here looking for trouble, you're going to find it," he said.

A group of South Side business owners and residents were present at Zappala's South Side meeting Thursday highlighting the new camera system. Many still had issues with the current state of the South Side, including garbage, lack of parking, nuisance crimes like littering and overall "unruly behavior."

Zappala admitted that while there has been progress made, there is still plenty to do to get the South Side up to standard.

"I think we got to think about the residential neighborhoods because we got Carson Street to the south," he said. "We got the river on the one side, which is an advantage for us. I'd like to see bollards on the sidewalks so we don't have tragedies like they had in London and other places in the world where cars go up on the sidewalk. I'd like to see the speed of cars on West Carson Street slow down. I'm hoping that PennDOT will have a meaningful dialogue with us before they put money into that."

Some of the complaints did not fall within the realm of public safety, but Zappala is inviting others to join the conversation.

"There are other agencies that we need to speak to and need to come to the table," he said. "This was always intended to stimulate discussion. If people feel safe or they don't feel safe in the residential portions of South Side then this is the forum where they can let me know."

There are currently plans to install a similar camera system in the eastern and southern parts of Oakland. Zappala said he is also speaking with some Allegheny County high schools to implement the same technology. McKeesport High School already has this surveillance system and license plate reader in place. The school has a database of all vehicles permitted on campus which are checked with a license plate reader at the entrance to the high school. If a car not in the database goes through the entrance checkpoint, the school will respond appropriately.