A second Allegheny County borough is considering disbanding its police force |

A second Allegheny County borough is considering disbanding its police force

Theresa Clift
North Braddock Borough

East Pittsburgh isn’t the only small Allegheny County municipality grappling with whether to keep its police force.

North Braddock Mayor Tom Whyel told the Tribune-Review on Thursday that the borough is in negotiations to have Allegheny County provide police protection there.

The borough’s police department employs 11 part-time officers and a full-time police chief, Whyel said.

With an annual budget of about $550,000, the department lacks the money to hire full-time officers, which leads to a lot of turnover, Whyel said. The maximum salary for an officer there is about $15 an hour.

“We train people for six to seven months. We endure those costs. The next thing you know, they’re gone,” Whyel said. “It’s a revolving door. It never stops. It’s been going on that way for close to 20 years now.”

Whyel said the borough once interviewed a candidate for a police officer job on a Friday, and by Tuesday, he had accepted a full-time job at another police department.

“He went there for better pay and medical benefits, which is often the case,” Whyel said.

Borough officials began meeting with county officials to discuss the idea roughly six months ago, prior to the June 19 fatal police shooting of unarmed teen Antwon Rose by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, Whyel said.

Rose had been riding in a car matching the description of one involved in an earlier drive-by shooting in North Braddock.

County officials have visited North Braddock three times to analyze the facilities and calculate a cost for the contract, Whyel said. The most recent visit was about two months ago, Whyel said.

Borough officials are now waiting for county officials to propose a cost, Whyel said. He expects that to happen by the end of the year. The proposal would then go to the borough’s council and the County Council for approval.

If a proposal goes to the borough council for consideration, Council Vice President Michael Dobrinich believes it will pass.

“I’m pretty sure the majority of (members) will (pass it) because of what’s been going on in our police department for the past year or so,” Dobrinich said. “We’ve had some officers not responding and a few other things.”

East Pittsburgh officials are also considering contracting with the county for police services.

County police have provided police services for the nearby borough of Wilmerding under a contract signed in 2016. That small municipality at the time agreed to pay the county $250,000 the first year and increases of 3 percent the following years plus a portion of fines and fees.

Allegheny County Manager William McKain has had meetings to talk about “working together to provide government services,” but declined to name who he has met with, he said in an email to the Trib via county spokeswoman Amie Downs.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner Thursday sent out a news release suggesting the county police train the officers in all municipalities through its police academy and make sure municipalities are training officers under the most current use-of force- practices from the Police Executive Research Forum, among other requests.

Downs did not respond to a request for comment on Wagner’s suggestions.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. has scheduled a meeting with several police departments in the county Saturday to make sure are using the most up-to-date policies, according to the East Pittsburgh council agenda from Tuesday.

Zappala said in June East Pittsburgh police did not have any policies. Mayor Louis Payne said last month the department has policies, but “they might not have been updated the way they should have been.”

Zappala Spokesman Mike Manko said the Saturday meeting will be held to “discuss some law enforcement issues with elected officials and police officials.” He declined to provide details until after the meeting.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Theresa at 412-380-5669, [email protected] or via Twitter @tclift.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.