Pittsburgh City Council has approved a measure for a professional service agreement between Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the city for the continuation of the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime (PIRC).
This comes with a $150,000 price tag, which Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith questioned.
“I don’t mind funding anything if we see results, but I don’t want to fund something if we don’t see results, and I have not seen results from this program,” she said.
PIRC was launched by former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and City Councilman Ricky Burgess. Its goal is to reduce gang violence and homicides in the city. Under PIRC, the city, county, state and federal governments work with social services organizations to connect at-risk individuals with resources such as job training.
Kail-Smith said that despite PIRC, there have been numerous shootings in the area she represents and she’s heard no response from PIRC. She said she’d prefer funding go to other organizations combating crime.
“I know in our community we have several groups that are doing a ton of work with our most at-risk youth, yet they do it on a volunteer basis, a lot of them put funding out of their own pocket,” said Kail-Smith. “But I see their results and I’d like to see groups like that also have the opportunity to apply for grants and fund some of the work that they’re doing.”
Kail-Smith was the lone “no” vote for the funding. Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who sponsored the measure, said the program is working, but it can’t fix all of the city’s problems on its own.
“I would argue that PIRC has done a job in stopping some violence that would have escalated,” Lavelle said. “I know there have been instances where there could have been violence, but the violence was prevented because of the implementation of this program. But obviously there’s much more work to be done to address the much larger issue of violence within our community.”
Even though the council approved funding for PIRC, Mayor Bill Peduto has said that he intends to review the program as part of an overhaul of the city’s public safety plan.