LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The mayor of Lancaster broke her silence Thursday afternoon when she explained the sudden retirement of the city’s police chief.
Her comments followed after ‘Right to Know’ requests were filed to show exactly what was in the separation agreement between Chief Jarrad Berkihiser and the city.
Since the details were already going to be released, Mayor Danene Sorace (D) made a statement — but it’s not sitting well with the people close to Berkihiser.
“As a result of public comments made by others — none of whom were involved in my conversations with Chief Berkihiser — I feel compelled to make this statement,” Mayor Sorace said.
Her statement indicated that since the George Floyd protests broke out throughout the city, Sorace and Chief Berkihiser had a series of conversations about progressive policing, racial inequality, and how Lancaster can lead the way.
She noted, however, that their opinions and passions differed.
“Ultimately, my doubts about Chief Berkihiser’s alignment with my vision resulted in our negotiating a separation agreement,” Sorace said.
Berkihiser’s supporters are baffled by the claim.
“There were no deficits or no concerns about or for Chief Berkihiser. There was nothing but [commending words] and praise that they made a great team,” said a close family friend.
In fact, our source said nothing was said to the chief at all until his wife wrote a Facebook comment in support of the president.
“It’s someone’s freedom of speech and someone’s opinion that we’re all entitled to — including the mayor,” the source said.
Sorace insisted that the pair simply wasn’t a good fit for the city, and now it’s time to look to the future.
“I’m optimistic that a new chief will help move this work forward and continue the work of building a stronger and more equitable Lancaster,” Sorace said.
Our source believes there’s no equality in what happened to Chief Berkihiser.
“Jarrad loves this city and he loves his officers, and he wants his city safe and the officers safe, and the city well served,” they said.
The Fraternal Order of Police also responded on behalf of Chief Berkihiser, saying they were reviewing the accuracy of the mayor’s statement.
They released their own that said:
The Lancaster County Fraternal Order of Police is reviewing the accuracy or the mayor’s statement. We are surprised at her comments as to Chief Berkihiser’s passion and commitment regarding his leadership and direction of the Lancaster City Bureau of Police. News stories and media clips clearly show the opposite of her comments.
No one worked as hard to effectuate efforts to move the Department forward and address the mayor’s concerns than Chief Berkihiser. We view this ironic, with all of the advances the Chief made in a short period of time(4 months), as an example of exceptional leadership.
He was working tirelessly to meet the goals outlined by the mayor and her ‘inner circle’.
To believe that a Leader of a police department of this size could achieve these changes In a short period of time is unrealistic.
In addition, there is no prior documentation nor objective criticism by the mayor indicating her displeasure of Chief Berkihiser’s administration of the Lancaster Bureau of Police to support her claim.
The Lancaster County Fraternal Order of Police stands behind its belief that the actions of the mayor and her ‘inner circle’ was motivated by the comment made by his wife In support of President Donald Trump.