Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office spent $500,000 prepping for Rosfeld trial
The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office spent nearly $500,000 on crowd control training, overtime and preparing for violent protests and riots that never happened in the aftermath of the trial of former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld.
The trial, related training and overtime cost the county sheriff’s office, police department and court system nearly $670,000, according to information provided by those departments.
Pittsburgh police, which spent more than $1 million on officer overtime during protests after Rosfeld shot and killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose II in June, has not yet compiled its costs during the trial and the protests that followed.
Sheriff William Mullen said his department spent more than $250,000 on new equipment including gas masks, shields and helmets. Nearly the same amount was spent on overtime and training for deputies after the shooting and before Rosfeld’s trial in March.
Mullen said his office was “preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.”
Rosfeld faced one count of homicide for killing Rose as the teenager ran from a traffic stop June 19, 2018, in East Pittsburgh. Rose and another individual, Zaijuan Hester, were passengers in a vehicle suspected to be involved in a drive-by shooting that took place earlier that evening.
The shooting touched off weeks of protests throughout the city. Confrontations between protesters and police were minimal.
Jurors acquitted Rosfeld on March 22. Protests started immediately after the verdict was announced as supporters of Rose’s family gathered outside the courthouse. Those protests remained peaceful.
The sheriff’s office spent $250,263 for new “personal protection equipment” for the office’s 169 deputies, Mullen said. That included gas masks to replace those that had expired, uniforms, shields and ballistic helmets equipped with radios, each running about $1,800.
“That may seem like a lot of money, and it is a lot of money, but we haven’t had equipment since the G20,” Mullen said, referring to the G20 Summit held in Pittsburgh in 2009.
Months of overtime and training costs came in at $237,887. Extra training started immediately after the shooting in June and was intended to teach deputies crowd control techniques that would allow protests to continue without interference, Mullen said.
“It was for if the protests get out of control, and even if they were not out of control, how to manage the crowds,” Mullen said.
Most deputies work daylight shifts, so training had to be done on weekends, he said.
The total overtime and training cost includes the four-day trial, which started March 19 and was preceded by jury selection in Harrisburg the week before. Deputies assisted during jury selection and with transporting jurors, Mullen said.
Overtime for March 11 to March 22 cost the department $50,648, Mullen said. Protests in the days following the verdict tacked on an additional $11,333 as deputies were called to back up other police departments during protests in Clairton and elsewhere in Pittsburgh, Mullen said.
“We just wanted to not make any mistakes,” Mullen said, adding that the department reviewed training policies in recent months to make sure it was in compliance with accredited best-practices.
Costs were covered through the office’s regular budget and funds generated through asset forfeiture, Mullen said.
Allegheny County Police incurred $131,853 in trial-related costs to date, according to figures provided by Superintendent Coleman McDonough.
To compare, Montgomery County spent more than $219,000 during the initial June 2017 Bill Cosby sexual assault trial, which ended in a mistrial.
That tally included $98,000 in overtime for sheriff’s deputies during the two-week trial as well as the jury selection process in Allegheny County.
The 12 out-of-town jurors and six alternates in that case were bused to Montgomery County from Allegheny County and sequestered at a Plymouth Meeting hotel. That carried a $50,000 price tag, along with an additional $14,000 for food.
Subsequent reports said that number doubled as Montgomery County hosted Cosby’s retrial in 2018, putting the total cost for both trials around $400,000.
Cosby was found guilty and sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. He was also fined $25,000 and ordered to repay the cost of those trials.
The out-of-town jury in the Rosfeld trial cost the Allegheny County courts system nearly $40,000 and other expenses during the trial added about $10,000 more, according to figures provided by the court administration office.
It cost $2,610 to bus the 12 main jurors and four alternates from Dauphin County and $14,295 to put them up in a hotel. Meals cost $8,295 and payments to jurors cost $1,850.
Other travel and hotel costs in Dauphin County totaled $1,855, along with $11,056 to reimburse Dauphin County for hosting the jury selection.
Court employee overtime expenses related to the trial cost $5,696, and the closed circuit television system set up in the overflow courtroom by the Allegheny County Bar Association to accommodate those who came to watch the trial cost $4,115.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .