A five-month undercover operation by Pittsburgh police resulted in the arrest of more than 60 residents of the Hill District, the chief of police and mayor said at a press conference on April 16. Among those arrested in the sting, called Operation Clean Sweep, were several middle-aged people that city officials claimed were longtime “high-level targets.” Officials also plan to increase surveillance of the public in the area through street cameras.
Perhaps the most “high-level target” was a 66-year-old man who was convicted of felony drug distribution in 1976. A police commander said the man was back at it and that his son, who also has been charged, was part of the scheme. Another man who was arrested is 52 and accused of possessing $19,000 worth of heroin.
Officers said they seized drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin with street value of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The operation involved undercover officers allegedly purchasing drugs from residents while the exchange was captured on video. One video shown to reporters on April 16 appears to depict officers exchanging something with three people. Based on WPXI’s description of the video, prosecutors may have to rely on the officers’ testimony as they attempt to establish that the exchanged object was drugs.
Pittsburgh police said they would be installing cameras in the area to monitor the public for possible drug dealing. Many people consider cameras on the street to be a government intrusion on privacy, but courts generally have found that we do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when we are in public. Law enforcement relies upon this legal principle when conducting this sort of public observation.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Hill drug sweep nets 60,” Sadie Gurman, April 17, 2012