University police presence to remain in Oakland

Written By Veronica Kropf

When junior musical theater major Sonny Chianese came home one day to his Oakland residence, he never expected to find dozens of campus and city police surrounding his neighborhood.There were a series of burglaries in Oakland and the Point Park police provided him with reassurance of protection.In addition to patrolling around the University’s Downtown campus, the Point Park Police will continue to patrol in the Oakland area even after the Pittsburgh Playhouse moves Downtown.“If there are still Point Park students living in the area, why not offer them the service that they deserve,” said Chianese.The University police patrol the Oakcliffe neighborhood in south Oakland, which centers around the Pittsburgh Playhouse. The Pittsburgh Playhouse is scheduled to begin its transition to Forbes Avenue in Downtown in 2014. According to Captain Bernie Merrick of Point Park Police Department, their continued presence in the neighborhood is due to the high population of Point Park students and a high number of complaints from other residents about loud disruptive college parties.“We made a promise to the city and the residents in the area that we would continue to patrol over there,” said Merrick in an interview Sept. 19. “Residents don’t mind having the students living amongst them. What they’re tired of is trash in their yard, people urinating in their yards, bent car antennas and so on.”The police department’s 10 sworn officers and three non-sworn dispatchers work closely with the police departments from the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the city police. According to Merrick, Oakland residents warranted the attention of the city police and campus police and are demanding action.“Students need to know that they aren’t just going to be dealing with us and the judicial board; they’re also going to be facing the city police and possible fines,” Merrick said.Some students living in Oakland believe that the continued services from the University are reasonable and needed.“Regardless of the issue of college parties, I think it’s necessary that they continue patrolling just because of the amount of Point Park students that live there,” said Alaina Petrillo, a senior education major and former Oakland resident, in an interview Sept. 19. “Most of the people I knew living on Joe Hammer Square were Point Park students.”For the foreseeable future the services of the Point Park police are required in Oakcliffe, and student residents are pleased to hear it.However, Merrick pointed out that so many Point Park students live in Oakcliffe due to its close proximity to the playhouse.“This all might change,” Merrick said. “It may not be worth it for students to live up there once the playhouse moves.”