Residents of East Pittsburgh concerned about response times with dissolving of police department

Residents of East Pittsburgh concerned about response times with dissolving of police department

EAST PITTSBURGH, Pa. — There have been discussions about disbanding the East Pittsburgh Police Department for years, according to council members.

On Saturday, the department will be disbanded.

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The future of the department has been in question since shortly after the shooting death of Antwon Rose in June.

The Pennsylvania State Police, Pittsburgh Station, said in a release Monday that troopers would be providing police services for East Pittsburgh Borough as of Dec. 1, 2018.

Troopers received a formal, written request from the East Pittsburgh Police Department on Nov. 13, 2018, requesting they provide full-time police services to the borough after the department is disbanded.

Channel 11 expected to learn about the future of law enforcement in East Pittsburgh at a borough council meeting on Nov. 20, but no one was there when our crew arrived.

Channel 11 went to the East Pittsburgh municipal offices on Monday to speak with the police chief. We were told she was out sick today and other borough officials had already left for the day.

Channel 11 also went to the home of the council president, who said that, if the response time will be too long, an officer who is closest will respond instead.


Channel 11 learned from the Pennsylvania State Police that it is already covering two municipalities.

Emergency calls will be relayed to the state police Pittsburgh station out of Moon Township and the station assured Channel 11 that its response will be as quick as possible dependent upon call priority and current activity.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala confirmed to Channel 11 that the remaining East Pittsburgh police officers will be laid off when the department is dissolved.

"East Pittsburgh's probably going to go out of business, policing business, maybe by the end of the year," he said in an interview last week. "I'll be having some discussions with state police about that so the technology guys have been down there around East Pittsburgh, North Braddock, Turtle Creek and they're looking to saturate those areas so, if the state police are the patrol agency, then they can have eyes in those communities."


After learning of the disbandment of the borough's police department, Channel 11 spoke with the Rose family's attorney.

"For them, what this has always been about is better vetting of police who are being hired. It's about better training for police and it's about police reporting when there are bad police," Fred Rabner said.

As the family's civil suit continues, the attorney wants to know what the issues were that led to the department disbanding and whether any of them existed prior to the Antwon Rose shooting.

At an October meeting, Channel 11 spoke to the East Pittsburgh council president about the future of law enforcement there.

"We've had several meetings with the state, the county, and surrounding communities," said Dennis Simon.

Soon after the June shooting death of Rose, 17, by East Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Rosfeld, council members announced they were disbanding the department. But months later, no changes had been made.

Allegheny County Police declined an offer to take over that department and the North Braddock Police Department. There was also talk of creating a regionalized police force.

At the time, the idea of using Pennsylvania State Police was being considered as a last resort because officials were worried response times would be too long.