ALLEGHENY COUNTY (KDKA) — There has been a shift in where homicides are happening in Allegheny County.
There once was a time when the vast majority of homicides happened within city borders.
But things have changed in the past few years.
Of the 95 homicides recorded in Allegheny County last year, 37 happened in the city.
The majority happened in the suburbs, primarily in eastern suburbs and the Mon Valley.
There were 11 in Wilkinsburg, eight in Penn Hills and seven in McKeesport, with smaller numbers recorded in Duquesne, Homestead and Rankin.
County police investigated those homicides, and county police Inspector Andrew Schurman says they’re seeing a rise in towns that are struggling economically.
“The municipalities that we work a lot in are suffering from financial distress and don’t have robust police departments to put on the street,” Schurman said.
While the Mon Valley relies on part-time officers that are paid just above minimum wage, the city credits initiatives like community policing and ShotSpotter for the reduction in the murder rate.
Others cite gentrification in places like East Liberty, the displacement of poor people and cost of living.
“The crime does happen in a lower-income district, and the city is trying to eliminate those lower-income districts. So those folks, unfortunately, have to move somewhere, and perhaps that place is the suburbs,” said Howard Burton, Penn Hills chief of police.