East Pittsburgh Considering Nixing Entire Police Force In Wake Of Antwon Rose Killing
No word yet on which department would take over for the borough.
It's been a little over two months since Antwon Rose Jr. was fatally shot by a police officer following a traffic stop on June 19, 2018. Rose's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael H. Rosfeld (the officer who killed the 17-year-old) and East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's police chief and mayor.
Amid calls for police reform in East Pittsburgh, the borough's council is considering dismantling its police force completely, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Should the borough decide to dissolve its police department, another local law enforcement group would be brought in to cover the city's law enforcement needs. The council isn't sure what department would be hired, but current top contenders are Allegheny County's force and the departments of neighboring municipalities.
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Dennis Simon, president of the East Pittsburgh Borough Council, said shutting down the force is "a possibility" during a meeting on Tuesday, CBS Pittsburgh reports. “We don’t have any definite answers yet. It’s financial, it’s safety, it’s how many patrols, how many calls, things like that. We’ve been thinking about this for years, actually. It’s something that’s been in progress for a long time.”
“We met with the other communities, we gave them our … budget numbers and how much we can afford and how many police we need, things like that,” Simon said. “They’re going over those numbers as we speak.”
Simon also confirmed Rosfeld is still with the department on unpaid leave. The council president said the body wouldn't make the final call on whether he will be fired.
East Pittsburgh Police Chief Lori Payne stated that decision would be made by lawyers and solicitors following Rosfeld's court case. Rosfeld is scheduled to appear for arraignment on Wednesday.
Community activist and East Pittsburgh resident Erica Yesko said she believes shutting down the department could benefit the borough's citizens.
“If they’re going to take accountability for that, and try to make it better, and change it to where they could have some policies, that’s a step in the right direction,” Yesko said.
According to Simon, the council plans to vote on the fate of the East Pittsburgh Police Department at its next meeting, set to occur on September 18.
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