State police prepare to take over patrols in East Pittsburgh

The East Pittsburgh police department will end operations Saturday, and Pennsylvania State Police will begin policing the borough, state police said Monday.

State police received a formal written request from East Pittsburgh police on Nov. 13, according to a news release from Trooper Melinda Bondarenka. The department “requested that the PSP provide full-time police services to the borough following the abolishment of their police department on Dec. 1, 2018.”

Police to disband in town where teen was killed as he fled

Borough officials have said they’ve been mulling the disbandment of their police for years, but pursued that option with new vigor following the June 19 shooting of unarmed teenager Antwon Rose II by Officer Michael Rosfeld. The shooting sparked weeks of protests across Allegheny County.

Bondarenka said state police are obligated to provide services at no cost to any municipality without its own law enforcement.

“The PSP provide full police services for political subdivisions that are without the protection of an organized police department and will respond to all calls for police assistance,” according to the release.

The borough has been down to four part-time officers and Chief Lori Fruncek for two months – half the number it had at the time of the shooting. Rosfeld has been on leave since that time. Officers Nathaniel Calebro and Brian Jenks resigned in September, and officer Brian Neff resigned in October.

Rose had been a passenger in a car suspected in a drive-by shooting in nearby North Braddock minutes before the car was pulled over in East Pittsburgh. Police say the car had gunshot damage to its rear window, likely from the earlier shooting. As Rosfeld ordered the driver to the ground, Rose and backseat passenger Zaijuan Hester fled on foot, authorities said.

Witnesses told police that Rose got out of the car and briefly raised his empty hands before turning and running from the scene, according to charging documents against Rosfeld, who fired three shots at the teen and hit him in the back, head and elbow. Rosfeld faces a homicide charge, and a trial is scheduled for Feb. 26.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

The town where an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by an officer is disbanding its police department, and Pennsylvania State Police will provide police services there starting this weekend.

A state police spokeswoman confirmed that East Pittsburgh had sent a letter on Nov. 13 requesting patrol services. The towns council had renewed long running discussions of disbanding the now five-person department in August shortly after an officer fatally shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose in the back as he fled a June traffic stop. Officer Michael Rosfeld has been charged with criminal homicide in the shooting.

East Pittsburgh officials didnt immediately return messages for comment Monday. State police will take over policing starting on Saturday.

State police are obligated under law to provide policing services when a municipality does not have a police department.

Posted in Pittsburgh