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Zone 5 Commander Breaks Silence

Posted by Elwin Green on August 23, 2013 at 11:40 PM

This is not the story I intended to place in this spot.


Let me explain.


This morning, I attended a meeting at State Rep. Ed Gainey's office with a group of Homewood community leaders, Councilman Ricky V. Burgess and Pittsburgh Police Bureau Zone 5 Commander Timothy O'Connor.


The meeting, which started out as a response to the recent rash of shootings in the East End, changed direction when Cmdr. O'Connor mentioned that he has been instructed by a superior to break off contact with representatives of ShotSpotter, the company that sells gunshot detection systems that Councilman Burgess has sought for Homewood.


He said that the Bureau doesn't want to share certain information with ShotSpotter. And then he said,


"If it's going to help, as a tool for us, to stop the shooting, let 'em have the damn information."


He asked Councilman Burgess if he was still advocating for the installation of the ShotSpotter system. And Councilman Burgess said,


"If we're going to have this conversation in public, let's go at it.


"There has been over the last, probably three years, an unwillingness of the top administration of the Pittsburgh Police to do anything - to do any of the preventative, deterrent approaches to law enforcement..."


And before he finished speaking, Cmdr. O'Connor said, "And that is correct."


From that point, there was an extended conversation that was not so much about how the community can prevent crime, as it was about how some practices within the Bureau of Police hinder effective policing. And Cmdr. O'Connor did most of the talking.


I hoped to crank out the story about this meeting by 6 pm. I didn't, for two reasons.


1 - The more I thought about it, the more I thought that the story deserved an extended treatment. Today's meeting was dense. I won't do it justice in three paragraphs, or in 10.


2 - I did not have a large enough chunk of time this afternoon to dedicate to the story.


I will keep working, and pieces of this will come out over the weekend. For now, hold on to this: In a meeting with Homewood leaders this morning, Zone 5 commander Timothy O'Connor criticized the Pittsburgh Police Bureau's top brass for not providing the resources needed for effective policing of the community.

NEXT: "I was very, very unhappy" about Henderson case

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