Newly appointed Zone 2 Commander Eric Holmes has had a successful start overseeing the Pittsburgh precinct that covers Downtown, the Hill District, Lawrenceville and the Strip District. Less than two weeks into his new position, Holmes’ unit was responsible for the arrest of six individuals suspected of being involved in at least 55 car break-ins.
Holmes becomes the second Black commander of the 6 police zones. The other commander is RaShall Brackney.
After 15 years with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Holmes was promoted to commander from the rank of sergeant at a Police Promotions Ceremony on Aug. 22. He replaced former Zone 2 Commander George Trosky who was promoted to the rank of assistant chief.
“I was gratified that the chief and the director and the mayor had chosen me,” Holmes said. “I was thankful that I would be able to continue to serve the city in a different capacity.”
The first few weeks of Holmes new appointment have given him little time to settle into his new position. With two homicides within 24 hours of each other in August and the recent theft arrests, Holmes has had to juggle the ranging needs of his new precinct.
“The crime rate is always a problem,” Holmes said. “Right now we’ve had a problem with car break-ins. We made six arrests, which cleared a lot of cases and the Bureau has launched a vehicle theft campaign. We’re trying to get people to take those steps to be less a victim of vehicle theft.”
In addition to his part in the vehicle theft campaign, Holmes recently developed a criminal justices institute at Urban Pathways charter school. The program gives students an opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with police officers in a relaxed environment.
Holmes got his start in public safety as a volunteer firefighter before going on to attend Slippery Rock University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. During his time with the Bureau he has had a variety of assignments including patrol, K-9, DUI enforcement, negotiator, street response unit, narcotics and vice.
“I enjoy helping people and public safety in general,” Holmes said. “Everyday is different; every call is different. One day you could just be taking a report and the next day you could be talking to a group of students about civic responsibility. You get the satisfaction that you’re serving citizens in the community you live in and giving back to the community.”
Most notably, Holmes was responsible for leading the department’s G-20 Liaison Unit in preparation for the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit in 2009. He was also responsible for completing the Bureau’s comprehensive operation plans for, First Night 2011, 2011 NHL Winter Classic, 2011 AFC Championship game, Super Bowl XLV and 2012 NHL Draft.
Holmes new responsibilities include serving as public liason to community groups, completing various reports related to statistical reporting, and supervising lieutenants. He said he will work to combat the high crime in Zone 2 by employing a variety of methods including saturation patrols, where a large number of officers are sent on patrol; directed patrol, which uses crime trend statistics to direct patrols, and targeted patrols which uses community oriented policing to target patrols.
“I think talking to the individuals who make up Zone Two and listening is important because they know what’s going on,” Holmes said. “(I’m) trying to get a grasp on what they see or feel, looking at crime trends and trying to map out a strategy.”