This story took place over the past week or so but it’s just bubbling to the surface outside of the local news beat. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mayor Danene Sorace (D) held an extremely short press conference on October 2nd to announce the retirement of their Chief of Police, Jarrad Berkihiser. After briefly thanking him for his service, the Mayor took no questions from the press and departed. The Police Chief did not attend the event and issued no comment.
The retirement of one police chief normally wouldn’t make for much of a news story, but word has leaked out that the reason for the “retirement” was much more than initially met the eye. According to a past president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, this was actually a case of the Mayor telling Berkihiser that he could either choose to retire early or be fired. And it was because of comments that the Chief’s wife had posted on Facebook in support of President Trump. (Lancaster Online)
Lancaster’s police chief was forced to retire because his wife posted positive comments about President Trump on Facebook, according to the past president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.
Mayor Danene Sorace announced Jarrad Berkihiser’s retirement on Friday, Oct. 2, during a three-and-a-half-minute news conference at which she did not answer questions and which Berkihiser did not attend.
It was retire or be fired, John Fiorill, the FOP’s immediate past president said Friday.
Fiorill said his account of Berkihiser’s retirement is based on a call Berkihiser made to the FOP lodge seeking labor advice after Sorace demanded his resignation. Since Berkihiser had not reached an agreement with the city at the time of that call, Fiorill said he believes he can share the information with the media.
The comments posted by the Chief’s wife have since been deleted, but they were captured and saved before they disappeared. In a thread about volunteering at a Trump rally, a friend of Kristy Berkihiser (the Chief’s wife) posted something about how sincerely the President had spoken about his support of law enforcement. Mrs. Berkihiser responded by saying, “why I’m voting for him again. Same reason as last time… you don’t see him meeting w Jacob Blake’s family or speaking to him by phone…”
That was apparently the entire exchange. But it caught someone’s attention and the comments clearly found their way to the Mayor’s office. Now, I’ll grant you that I could see how some people might take offense at someone cheering for the President not placing a call to the family of a Black man shot by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. But that wasn’t the chief talking. That was his wife. How petty would you have to be to terminate a lifelong law enforcement officer’s career over that? Is he supposed to censor his wife’s social media accounts?
In followup series of exchanges with the press, the Mayor continued to insist that she couldn’t make any further comment on the subject, citing privacy and an “agreement” between her and the soon-to-be ex-Chief. Jarrad Berkihiser isn’t issuing any public statements either.
We don’t have any way to document it as yet, but it’s not too hard to guess what’s going on here. The Trump-hating Mayor probably made it clear that she was going to ensure that Berkihiser was driven from office. If he kept his mouth shut he could quietly retire and keep the retirement benefits he was probably counting on to support his family. Or he could fight her, be fired, and potentially lose those benefits. Perhaps the Chief decided that discretion was the better part of valor and decided leaving would be better than working for this sort of a mayor anyway.
The Trump Derangement Syndrome is apparentLy strong in Lancaster. It’s just a shame that the Chief wound up taking the brunt of the damage for something he had nothing to do with.