Ricky Burgess

A slew of city officials on Tuesday announced a new initiative that they hope will increase public safety and improve community-police relations.

Safer Together, the brainchild of Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess, has five similar goals to build relationships of respect, cooperation and trust within and between the Department of Public Safety and the community. It also aims improve education, oversight, monitoring, diversity, accountability and hiring practices for the department.

This is the first in a three-part series looking ahead to the 2015 priorities with members of Pittsburgh City Council.

Pittsburgh police plan to test an electronic gunshot-detection system later this month in a three square mile area stretching from the East Hills to East Liberty.

Councilman Ricky Burgess, who represents the neighborhoods, said there are three reasons for installing the ShotSpotter system, which can pinpoint the location and direction of shots fired.

Flickr user MichaelGoodin

After three months of community meetings, disagreements, and compromises, Pittsburgh City Council passed Councilwoman Deb Gross’s land bank legislation Monday morning.

Councilmen Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle have had the greatest concerns about the land bank proposal, but both voted in favor of the legislation.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess has introduced four pieces of legislation that he said will help spur development in some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.

One piece of legislation would create the Pittsburgh Priority Communities Commission, a body that would be tasked with creating comprehensive redevelopment plans for six to eight neighborhoods that show the most potential for an economic resurgence.

flickr user BeyondDC

Homewood, once the home of Andrew Carnegie and George Westinghouse, has had more than its share of economic troubles in recent decades.

According to data available from PGHSNAP, Homewood had a population of nearly 31,000 people in 1940. By 2010, that number had decreased 79 percent to 6,442. In 2009, the median income was just under $20,000, and in 2010, 46 percent of residents were living under the poverty level.

Councilman Ricky Burgess has spent the last few months hammering away at his fellow legislators with regard to the Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program.

Pittsburgh City Council had their first opportunity to discuss Deb Gross’s proposed land bank legislation as a group on Wednesday. The bill was first introduced on Jan. 14.

The first order of business after City Council swears in its newly elected members Jan. 6 is to choose a new president who will run the council for the next two years. The semi-annual election is always fraught with back room deals and unlikely alliances.

“That vote won’t be decided until five minutes before that meeting,” said Jim Motznik, former Pittsburgh City Councilman (2001-2010) and current District Municipal Court Justice.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed legislation Tuesday that requires contractors who enter into a contract of $250,000 or more with the city to offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits to its employees.

A dozen speakers came out today to express their opinions about whether city police should be required to live inside the City of Pittsburgh - with a unanimous “yes.”

The public hearing was held on Councilman Ricky Burgess’s proposal to put the police residency issue on the November 5 ballot.

Those who testified all argued the same point - how could the police properly protect them when they don’t even know them.

Kaffeeeinstein / Flickr

The question of whether Pittsburgh police officers should be required to live in the city goes before arbitrators in September. 

But City Councilman Ricky Burgess believes that all voters in the city should have a say in the matter, not just the three members of the arbitration panel.

“I think that the arbitration, whatever the results are, will probably be appealed and come before a judge,” said Burgess, who is sponsoring legislation to put the issue on the November ballot.

A day before a scheduled preliminary hearing, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala announced he's dropping charges against a Pittsburgh teacher who was arrested outside a meeting about police/community relations.

Dennis Henderson, a 38-year-old teacher at the Manchester Academy Charter School, was arrested June 26 in Homewood after leaving a Community Empowerment Association meeting.  

Burgess: Blight in Homewood Could Spread

Jun 24, 2013

More than 40 percent of land parcels and 30 percent of houses in Homewood are vacant. That’s according to research from the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Urban and Social Research.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in Homewood at the Carnegie Library to address the issue of blight, demolition of housing and land banking in that neighborhood. Pittsburgh Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess is hosting the forum, and he said there has been talk for years about addressing the problem of vacant and abandoned properties, but there’s been little action.

Pittsburgh City Council has given unanimous passage to a set of bills that will revamp the way city police officers are trained to respond to domestic violence incidents.

All nine City Council members agreed to adopt the Maryland Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Program, a step-by-step questionnaire process used by responding officers to determine the victim's risk of physical abuse. The officer would then be required to call the hotline for the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and ask the victim to speak with the operator.