The plans to crack down this summer on the ongoing issue of teenagers hanging out on Potomac Avenue seems to have been successful so far.
Police had just one encounter will teens in June that resulted in an arrest, but officers Jim Briglia and Don Kelly said they’re not letting up.
“We had a pretty big problem with juveniles on the corners last year and we’re trying to stop it this year before it starts up again,” Briglia said. “There’s a lot of other things for kids to get involved in around here. We have pools. We have parks. There are summer programs.”
The intersection of West Liberty and Potomac avenues is the busiest part of Dormont’s business district. Historically, it's also been a spot where teenagers hang out, Kelly said.
“There’s a group where you can warn them again and again and they keep coming back anyway,” Kelly said.
Not every teenager is to blame, he said, but loitering in the area has led to criminal mischief in the past—and often, the teens hanging out in the area are not from Dormont.
“Some of them are from Dormont, but a lot of them come in from the city neighborhoods,” he said. “They come in from Brookline, Beechview, some from Castle Shannon.”
That was the case when Briglia stopped a group of about 15 teenagers loitering in front of CoGo’s on Potomac Avenue on June 14. Briglia said he was on patrol just after 8 p.m. when he saw the group and noticed that pedestrians were having to walk around them.
He asked them to move along, but said when he circled around the block again, he saw that the teens hadn’t left, and asked them to move a second time. At that point, he said, some members of the group began yelling profanity.
Several ran across Potomac Avenue and were nearly hit by cars, and one teen stood in the middle of the street, reportedly telling Briglia that this is America, and that he couldn’t be arrested for standing in the road.
That teenager—a 16-year-old boy with a Brookline address—began yelling profanity at Briglia, according to the police report. He then tried to run from the scene, but was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and loitering.
The Dormont police have created an incident database to keep track of repeat offenders, and a system of issuing warnings to those loitering before filing charges.
Briglia and Kelly said that in the best interest of both drivers and pedestrians of all ages, they are hoping to keep dangerous situations from happening on Potomac Avenue.
“There’s so much here for people to do, and it’s close so people can walk to all the things they need,” Kelly said. “That’s a good thing, when people are using it for that purpose.”