Pittsburgh police release new guidelines for monitoring funerals

PITTSBURGH — In the wake of a mass shooting outside a funeral in Brighton Heights last month, Pittsburgh Police have released a new plan for making sure funerals of homicide victims are monitored by uniformed officers.

PHOTOS: Multiple people shot outside of funeral in Brighton Heights

Sources tell Target 11 that two officers from Zone 1 were assigned to the Brighton Heights funeral, but never made it.

The officers were sent to the funeral home first, but they left because there was nothing happening there.

According to sources, they were eventually called back to the police station on the North Side to write a report explaining why one of them missed a court hearing.

The shooting happened while they were at the police station.

It’s unclear if the officers were given permission to leave or if they acted on their own.

Target 11 first reported last week that those officers have now been suspended with pay.

The mayor and acting police chief confirmed that officers had been requested to monitor the funeral because some suspected there might be retaliation.

The funeral was for a man who was shot and killed on the North Side, and police have said they believe he was involved in a gun battle with some other men.

Two innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire were also killed.

A memo from acting Police Chief Tom Stangrecki, obtained by Target 11, outlines the bureau’s Homicide Response Plan.

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These are some of the key components.

Within 48 hours of a murder, officers with the Violent Crime Unit will meet with members of the Intelligence Unit, Gang Violence Intervention and the Zone Commander to provide an update on the investigation, and details about the viewing and funeral service.

Zone stations within the city are responsible for assigning uniformed officers to watch the funeral.

Officers must radio in when they arrive at the viewing, wake or funeral.

A supervisor will be required to drive out to the location and make sure the officers are there, and determine if any additional resources are needed.

“Any … funeral … for a homicide victim has the potential for violence since tensions are high ... Officers will be on alert for armed persons in the immediate area,” wrote Stangrecki.

Since that mass shooting, Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson, of the North Side, has called for change.

“We need to make sure that the families and friends are safe there, I mean, if we know about retaliation that’s going to happen. We should take it seriously,” said Wilson.

The memo sent by the acting chief on Tuesday morning also requires officers to stay in touch with a victim’s family and get dates, times and locations of both the viewing and the funeral.

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