A community that disbanded its police department after an officer-involved shooting of an unarmed black teen seems to be regretting its decision after crime has steadily increased, leaving the community questioning how to handle it. On Monday, the community gathered to determine how they can fix the violent crime spike and lack of police presence.
On November 13, 2018, the East Pittsburgh Borough Council voted to disband the East Pittsburgh Police Department after one of their officers shot and killed Antwon Rose, a suspect who allegedly committed a drive-by shooting moments before he was killed by an officer, Blue Lives Matter reported.
East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, the officer who killed Rose, was accused of racism. Afterwards, 80 plus residents surrounded his home to obtain retribution.
In an effort to calm the public, the city council disbanded the police department and claimed they would launch a multi-community police force that would cover the area, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Eight months have passed since the disbandment, but residents now seem to be regretting the impetuous decision they made as violent crimes have been on the rise again in the community. East Pittsburg residents expressed their frustrations on Facebook but found barely anyone feeling sorry for them.
“They drove their own police force out,” Paul Albright commented. “Now they want to complain because it takes longer to have the State Police respond to calls. They should thank God that any police are still willing to come into their Community. After the way they behaved last year.”
Pennsylvania State Police have tried to assist, but they already warned residents they would not be able to spend much time in the area due to the large area they now are forced to cover.
“We’re required by law that if an area does not have police services, to come in and provide full-time police services,” Trooper Melinda Bondarenka explained. “We have no idea how long we’re going to be there. Or if [East Pittsburgh officials] are going to try to negotiate with another department nearby. We’re just there for however long they need us.”
Depending on call volume, Pennsylvania State Police will often have to call on neighboring police departments to respond to urgent 911 calls if they are too far away.
“If we need backup or depending on our call volume and our location, if the trooper is already on something else, we might request a neighboring agency to come in until we get there,” Trooper Bondarenka said. “Just like if we have a crash on the Parkway, and there is another crash, we’ll ask a nearby department to get there, render aid and do whatever needs to be done.”
In March, Officer Rosfeld was found not guilty of all charges. He was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter, The New York Times reported.