Pittsburgh police report: Most homicide victims have crime records

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VALERIE DIXON

 

According to the Pittsburgh Police Department’s 2012 Annual Report, the average homicide victim is a 30-year-old Black man with some involvement in crime. Of the 40 homicides in the city this year, 34, or 85 percent of the victims were African-American, and 84 percent of the known perpetrators were African-American, although only 19 offenders have been identified.

While only one of the homicides was gang related, eight were retaliatory in nature and seven were drug related. Thirty of the 40 victims or 75 percent, had prior charges and 21 of the victims or more than 50 percent had drug charges.

This data reveals something many in the Black community have known all along. Pittsburgh’s homicide victims and perpetrators are predominantly African-American and the city’s violence isn’t a result of gang culture, but drug culture.

“I’m not surprised, if you’re paying attention, you know the causes behind this,” said Valerie Dixon, executive director of the Prevent Another Crime Today Initiative. “For many of these victims the (criminal) record starts when they’re teenagers.”

The average offender was a 26-year-old Black man with some involvement in crime, and only four of the offenders had no prior charges. Ninety-five percent of the offenders used firearms.

The number of homicides dropped by three from the previous year. Of the 40 murders, 21 homicide related arrests were made, giving the police a clearance rate of 60 percent, up 7 percent from last year’s rate of 53.

The area with the most homicides was Lincoln Lemington Belmar with five. However, overall the crime rate in that neighborhood is only 11 percent.

While Pittsburgh’s homicides reached a high of 54 in 2010, the rate has been on a steady decline since with 43 in 2011 and 40 in 2012. However, the rate has yet to dip below 2009’s total of 39. The 10-year homicide rate dropped by one to an average of 54 homicides per year.

“If they’re looking at it annually and seeing a pattern what are they doing with it?” I’ve known this through the years. We know this,” said Dixon whose son was a homicide victim. “Those who are already working on these types of issues already know these numbers. If we have these numbers and know the reasons we should be able to curb that. What’s the follow up?”

Requests for comment made to the department were forwarded to Assistant Chief George Trosky, who is in charge of the investigations branch. Trosky did not return several calls.

The police department’s annual report was released June 26. Some speculated it would not be released at all this year because of the recent upheaval regarding police leadership, but the department is required to release an annual report.

 

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