Allegheny County District Judge James A. Motznik is calling on Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala to investigate two issues relating to incidents at Pittsburgh Brashear High School.
One of the incidents, an assault and robbery at the school, is believed to be related to this week’s shooting of three students outside of the school. Motznik said he believes a new policy in place is preventing school police officers from issuing citations as they would have in the past.
“I’m confident it could have been handled better, hoping it maybe would have been avoided,” Motznik said. “But I know that there’s a problem, and it’s an ongoing problem with this new policy and it needs to be addressed.”
Motznik hears cases that stem from incidents at Brashear. He said in a typical year, by this point, he’d have handled nine or 10 cases for summary offenses such as harassment or disorderly conduct. This year, he’s had none. He believes that is due to the new policy which he’s been told requires school police officers to receive approval from the police chief to issue citations.
Motznik said he has not seen the policy but heard about it from some school administrators and police officers.
“I’m asking the district attorney to see if mistakes were made on how they handled that incident on the 18th and if this policy is something they should continue,” Motznik said.
District Attorney Zappala’s office released the following statement in response to the request:
“Judge Motznik relayed his concerns to the District Attorney during a brief conversation this week. The District Attorney assured the Judge that our office will reach out and talk with individuals both in the school district and the school police department. To call our involvement an investigation at this time would be premature and inappropriate.”
A call to Pittsburgh Public Schools about the new policy was not returned as of this story being published.