LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — What does Lancaster want in its next police chief?
It’s a question that needs to be answered because last week, Mayor Danene Sorace announced that chief Jarrad Berkihiser will retire on Oct. 31.
Someone who will have pull on deciding the city’s next police chief is Pastor Roland Forbes from Ebenezer Baptist Church. Forbes is a member of the community police working group.
The pastor says he was caught off guard when he heard Berkihiser would retire at the end of October. “With his efforts, we were able to accomplish a great deal of things such as the use of force policy, body cameras. He was good in terms of trying to bridge and the police department.”
Forbes said he thought Berkihiser has done a good job handling recent protests and dealing with rising tensions.
“He made an effort to connect to those and he tried to maintain the fact he was a police officer and was with the police department,” he said. “At the same time he understood there is frustration, there is anger.”
Forbes admitted Lancaster will face a tough decision choosing the next chief.
“All of us have to come together at the table and talk to one another in order to bring forth the type of city, the type of government, the type of police department, the type of fire department all of us desire,” Forbes said.
Eliza Booth, an organizer with the activist group Lancaster Stands Up, has been critical of Berkihiser at times. She told abc27 she wished he would have handled recent protests differently.
“I think the reaction he had as well as what he told his police officers could have been different,” Booth said.
Booth said Lancaster should hire a chief committed to overhauling a broken criminal justice system. “Mayor Danene Sorace has an excellent opportunity in her position to hire a new police chief that will bring change, much-needed change, and reform to the Lancaster City police department.”
Sorace hasn’t given a timeline as to when she intends to name a permanent replacement for Berkihiser.