As you may recall, about a week ago we learned that the Mayor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania had given her chief of police a stark choice. Retire early or be fired. Mayor Danene Sorace had said she negotiated a “private agreement” with Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser so she would not comment further on the details. The reason, as detailed by a past President of the PBA, was that Mayor Sorace was incensed over a couple of Facebook comments the Chief’s wife had posted in support of President Trump. Chief Berkihiser was not present for the announcement and also refused to comment, allegedly on the advice of the police union and his attorney. At the time I speculated that there was much more to the story than what the Mayor was saying.
That prediction is looking considerably more solid now. After being badgered by the local press for more information, the Mayor decided to comment on the subject she was “not allowed to comment on” after all. She’s now telling a different story, claiming that the Chief didn’t “share her vision” for the progressive future of Lancaster. (Lancaster Online)
Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace said she and police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser negotiated his retirement because she came to doubt he shared her vision for the direction of the police department following the death of George Floyd.
While not addressing it directly, Sorace’s statement — released late Thursday afternoon — refutes claims made by Berkihiser’s wife on social media and the Fraternal Order of Police that Berkihiser was forced to retire because of a pro-Trump Facebook posting.
“… I had many many discussions with Chief Berkihiser about racial equity, policing, and the ways in which Lancaster city could continue to lead the way as it related to progressive policing as in the county and the region,” Sorace said in a video statement released Thursday afternoon.
There are two distinct points about the Mayor’s recent comments that are worth noting. The first is the fact that she commented at all after telling everyone that the “agreement” she had reached with the Chief forbade her from saying any more. She was clearly lying to the public about this. Chief Berkihiser has kept up his end of the bargain, still refusing to offer any public comments while he consults with his attorney. So if there was an “agreement,” the Mayor has broken it.
The second point to note is all of this malarkey (thanks, Joe Biden!) about the Chief not “sharing her vision.” After some incidents of use-of-force encounters between police and minority suspects, Chief Berkihiser had already implemented policy changes and new training for the force to minimize such occurrences in the future. He was following the same general path that police forces around the nation have been charting, for better or worse.
In other words, he was already doing precisely what the Mayor had publicly said they needed to do. You’ll also note that Mayor Sorace doesn’t provide any specifics about these “conversations” she had with the Chief, offering no examples of how he “failed to share her vision.” If that was really the case, you’d think she would be willing to back up her claim now that she’s violated their “agreement” anyway, wouldn’t you?
Sorry (not sorry), but I’m not buying it This still looks like a case of a Mayor who is rabidly anti-Trump and was caught ending a lifelong law enforcement officer’s career in an act of petty revenge over some incredibly mild comments that the Chief’s wife had made on social media. And now she’s trying to back peddle her way out of it.
For what it’s worth, the Mayor has made more of an enemy of the Chief’s wife than of the Chief himself. On Thursday she posted to Facebook yet again saying, “The Mayor lies through her ****ing teeth.” You might not want to tick her off too badly, Mayor. She sounds like a tough cookie.